A Special Place in my Heart for Who Do You Say I Am: A Shroud of Turin Documentary Blending Science & Faith—A Catholic Doctor’s Review of the New Documentary
by Dr. Jean Schoonover-Egolf
Documentaries deliberating the validity of the Shroud of Turin are nothing new. But Patchwork Heart ministry founder Bill Snyder’s Who Do You Say I Am? (WDYSIA) offers a unique perspective—and even a few things I didn’t know!—about the mysterious relic that has always held a very special place in my heart. I highly recommend spending 60 minutes of your Lent contemplating this film.
My first witnessing of such a documentary must have been in the early ‘80s; in fact, it was probably the original of such broadcasts. The Silent Witness by acclaimed British film producer and director David Rolfe was released on BBC shortly after the Shroud underwent modern scientific scrutiny in 1978. The film profoundly bolstered my faith and also inspired me to create a series of charcoal sketches of our Lord’s Holy Face. Even years after graduation, I’d heard that Notre Dame Elementary in Portsmouth, OH still used one of those sketches in their annual Stations of the Cross upon Timlin Hill, when Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
How do I compare this 2023 documentary to that first film that inspired my (fourth-grade?) artsy soul? And what sets Who Do You Say I Am? apart from the dozens of other works on the Shroud produced over the last 50 years of filmmaking? Certainly, there is its perspective, which is a fresh angle served aside plenty of references to biblical passages and saints’ quotes. But I love how they continue to bring the science. Heaping high helpings of proof we can see and touch—and the data keeps pouring in—Snyder, in conjunction with Fiat Ministries, feeds our hungry souls with a series of spectacular updates in sindonology, the scientific study of the Shroud of Turin. If there was one thing I loved almost as much as art, it was science.
Fast forward a few decades from the making of that grade school theater prop: I opted for med school rather than art school. I tried as hard as I could to discredit 12 years of Catholic school, only to wind up believing more firmly than ever. Because, science. It may seem like I’m getting off topic here, but bear with me for a minute. Narrator Adam Frank states the purpose of this documentary “is simple: to spark and increase your faith.” One of the beauties of remaining faithful to the one, true Church that Jesus founded is that it’s not hard to believe when you have all the data. Our love of and access to the tangible isn’t suppressed, but rather, celebrated. We get all the data. Not that we as Catholics aren’t capable of having faith without seeing! But for the sake of explaining the importance of including WDYSIA into your faith journey, I am reminded of Thomas, whose faith needed a some strengthening when things sounded a little too far-fetched (John 20:24-29). Jesus and the Church He founded, left us many physical treasures to resuscitate us when our faith is on the brink.
Think about it. Why did Jesus leave the impression of His Holy Face on Veronica’s cloth? Why did He institute the Eucharist? Why did Mary appear to poor children in Portugal and France? As Catholics, we like the observable as well as the mysterious. We see, hear, move about, even taste and smell the Liturgies. God gave us our 5 senses as well as our good sense. Yes, He wants us to have faith. But just as Jesus lovingly gave Thomas the tangible proof he needed, God provides, through His Creation (including science—He created science, after all,) faith boosters here and there. As we as scientists slowly, over the centuries, uncover more of God’s amazing systematic method of bringing all of this into being, I believe He is graciously, perhaps one decade at a time, revealing the tools for us to see more clearly holy artifacts such as the Shroud.
As I stated, this latest Shroud of Turin piece taught me a few new things. There is always something new to learn when it comes to a faith whose history holds the magnitude, both the length of and the breadth of, Catholicism, isn’t there? There were 3 pearls in particular that I took away from WDYSIA. The first was the discussion by physicist Bryan Walsh about the main obstacle researchers have had in proving the Shroud’s is legitimacy: the 1988 carbon dating fiasco that placed the cloth’s age to Medieval times. Honestly, I don’t know why no one thought of this before. Anyone currently watching The Curse of Oak Island knows you can only accurately carbon date a specimen that hasn’t been touched/exposed to other carbon sources at multiple/more recent points in history. I won’t spoil it for you, but the arguments proffered by Walsh are solid. Those weird, outlying results were, like many other things from the ‘80s, easily debunked.
The next point I found particularly interesting was that the 372 scourge marks depicted on the Shroud were not fully understood until relatively recently, when archaeologists excavated a very specific part of the flagrum. The dumbbell-shaped ends of the chains made a specific double-cut pattern all over the Shroud, but no one could really explain why until the rough-edged leaden torture devices were unearthed. The “see it but just can’t explain it” followed by a later discovery of the article itself with that “ah ha!” moment must have been a major victory for sindonologists. Viewers can’t help but get swept into the realness of what this piece of cloth is and Who was in it.
Journal of American Medicine? I heard that name like that of an old friend, and thought, “What is he doing here in this Catholic video?” As residents we used our weekly JAMAs for everything from lap desks to pillows, in addition to the assurance that our morning rounds presentations would be well-put if we could back them up with its latest issue. I did not know that in 1986, the doctors wrote a JAMA article concluding that our Lord would have lost so much blood from the scourging alone, He was most certainly in hypovolemic shock by the time He completed the Via Dolorosa. This explains why Christ died on the cross within hours, rather than days, as most victims did.
Lagniappe pearl: this one I must have known (as would any Notre Dame Latin student of Sr. Dymphna Skelley’s,) but the ‘80s were a long time ago. I had forgotten that the word “excruciating” comes from ex crucis, “from the cross.” What a poignant reminder of Christ’s perfect sacrifice to us!
Another nice feature of WDYSIA is the selection of interviews with visitors to the traveling Man of the Shroud exhibit which displays a stunning life-sized photo of the cloth and other related materials. The show is available for parishes to book at kolbeshrine.org/shroud. There are so many more compelling points. The singular situation of a Jewish man being executed by Romans on the eve of the Sabbath and how the details of the burial ritual would have had to have been modified, along with the Gospel accounts, perfectly support the story the Shroud of Turin tells, down to the last fiber. WDYSIA leaves viewers with no doubt, this material was left behind by the Risen Lord!
Who Do You Say I Am: A Shroud of Turin Documentary Blending Science & Faith is a great addition to your Lenten devotions. It is available to rent ($3.99) or buy ($7.99) on Vimeo through patchworkheart.org or on CMAX.tv to its subscribers. Parishes are encouraged to host public showings by purchasing a group license at patchworkheart.org.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Muskego Will Host a Sneak Peek Screening of “Who do you say I am?”
Patchwork Heart Ministries presents a must-see documentary film that examines the Shroud of Turin through the lens of faith.
October 11, 2022, Muskego, Wisconsin – Patchwork Heart Ministry, Inc. is pleased to announce a sneak preview screening of “Who Do You Say I Am?” This must-see documentary was created in collaboration with Fiat Ministry Network, experts, and disciples of Jesus. This film will examine the science of the shroud through the lens of faith to inspire skeptics and deepen the faith of those who already believe. They invite all parishes and the public to a private screening of this documentary, followed by a Q&A, on November 29, 2022, from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at the Muskego Circle Community Center.
“We’re confident that this documentary will help people fall back in love with their faith and firmly believe in the power of Jesus,” says Bill Snyder, Patchwork Heart’s founder.
Is the Shroud of Turin real?
This fascinating documentary delves into the mystery surrounding this famous piece of linen cloth bearing a negative image of a man whom many believe is Jesus of Nazareth and regard this same fabric as the burial shroud in which He was wrapped following His crucifixion.
The shroud has been kept in the royal chapel of the San Giovanni Bautista Cathedral in Turin Italy since 1578. It has been analyzed, debated, and revered for centuries and is regarded as the most studied artifact in human history. “Who Do You Say I Am?” takes a fresh look at a centuries-old question about one of history’s most famous relics and brings in some of the world’s top experts to discuss a wide range of topics including blood stains, flowers and pollens, anatomical forensics, radiocarbon dating, material analysis, and more.
All are welcome.
“Who Do You Say I Am?” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that takes viewers on a journey through the history of the Shroud of Turin, presenting scientific facts through the eyes of faith and establishing a compelling narrative that will keep viewers captivated. The filmmakers invite all parishes and the general public to a private screening of this documentary on November 29, 2022, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Muskego Circle Community Center in Muskego, WI.
About Patchwork Heart Ministry: Patchwork Heart Ministry was founded by Bill Snyder, a three-time open-heart surgery survivor. Based on the belief that we all have a God-sized hole in our hearts and that we can only be healed if we completely trust and hope in Jesus, the Divine Physician, the organization aims to be Divine Physician assistants, helping young people in opening their hearts to receive God’s mercy and love. The team at Patchwork Heart Ministry minister, share the Gospel, and witness to the truths of the Catholic Faith in the following ways:
Podcasts & Online Videos
Authoring Christ-Centered Devotionals & Books
Speaking Engagements (Virtual & In-Person)
Retreats, Workshops & Days/Evenings of Reflection
“Who Do You Say I Am?” Documentary-Event
CONTACT: To find out more about Patchwork Heart Ministry, the documentary “Who Do You Say I Am?” or to arrange an interview for an article, please contact:
Bill Snyder: Patchwork Heart Ministry
Yesterday, January 6, 2021, is a day that will never be forgotten. I was out rideshare driving for several hours while listening to the news on the radio. I rarely listen to the news, as I usually prefer to have some light background music on while driving others around the greater Milwaukee area. However, yesterday was different, I needed to listen to the local traffic and news because less than 24 hours before it was announced by the district attorney in Kenosha, WI that no charges would be filed against the police officers involved in the Jacob Blake shooting last summer. Several streets in that community were barricaded the previous evening as they anticipated some protests and rioting.
For the most part, things seemed to be calm in Kenosha, and the rideshare trips led me out to the Waukesha area - I was safe and the risk was low that I would run into any demonstrations that might put my safety or the safety of my passengers at risk. Just as I reached for the dial to change the station, the news broke that protesters had broken into the United States Capitol building, the joint session of Congress had been suspended, Vice President Pence was escorted by secret service and a chaotic scene was unfolding. Upon hearing this, my heart sank immediately, I was deeply saddened by this news. I was also aware immediately that this would be a day that would leave a lasting and indelible mark upon this country.
This isn't a political blog, and I make the conscious choice not to share my political views on social media or in public - so if you are looking for a political analysis of yesterday's events, you'll need to look elsewhere. However, as the founder and president of a non-profit Catholic ministry, I believe I have an obligation to respond to the events we witnessed yesterday.
I host a podcast and radio show called Young Catholics Respond, and I often say that the title of the program is both a declarative and imperative statement. It is a young Catholic response to daily issues we face and also a call for young Catholics to respond to the constantly evolving cultural climate in which we live. Each time I sit behind the microphone and host an episode, I do so with the intention to both respond as a young Catholic attempting to put the Gospel into action and challenge other young Catholics to do the same. Although today I'm behind a keyboard and not a microphone, it is in that same spirit that I write this post.
When last year, 2020, began I often said that it was going to be a year of "perfect vision" and prayed that God would allow us to see Him more clearly and look at all humankind through His eyes and from His perspective. God certainly challenged us to see things differently as a worldwide pandemic has broken out impacting every corner of the earth.
The pandemic has caused all - every race, creed, and social class included - to pause and think about what really matters in their life. Some have used this moment of pause for the common good, helping and assisting others in their community by giving selflessly of their time, talent, and treasure. Others have used this to push a selfish agenda, loot, riot, and destroy. The unifiers and the dividers are coming into clearer focus and we have a greater awareness of who these individuals and groups are and how they seek to build up or tear down our society.
With each passing day, the contrast between unifiers and dividers seemingly increases. So too increasing is our anxiety and worry about the future of our world, country, community, and family. Simply, we are living in uncertain, difficult, and disturbing times. Many of us in our frail humanity are tempted to crawl in a hole and wait for the world to change, but God is calling us to something greater. We were created by God, positioned precisely at this point in human history to become saints and build the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
When the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to two shepherd children in La Salette, France in 1846 she appeared wearing a crucifix around her neck. On the horizontal beam of this crucifix, there are two items, one on the left side and one on the right. On the right side of the crucifix, there are pincers, and on the left, there is a hammer (from the perspective of Jesus). In the simple wearing of this crucifix, and by juxta positioning the hammer and pincers on opposite sides she was posing a question. She was asking which one will you take? Will you pick up the hammer and drive the nails further into Christ's flesh or the pincers and pull the nails out of His wrists and feet?
You must make a choice, no one who gazes upon the horrific scene at Calvary can leave undecided, you can't walk away without either mocking or mourning Jesus. Despite the hammer being heavier than the pincers, many find it easier to pick it up, drive the nails further into Christ's hands, and walk away. Saints, take the pincers, kneel down next to the beaten, bruised, and lifeless body of Christ, and remove the nails. They subject themselves to the mocking of the others who tell them their God is dead, but they carry on and free Christ's body from the cross anyway. They show compassion, they don't lose hope, and because their faith is great they are rewarded with everlasting life.
History is full of saints and people of great faith who have in the most difficult of times knelt down, removed the nails, stood in hope, and cooperated with grace to ensure the ground on which we stand today is firm. With grateful hearts for these champions of faith, we are now being confronted and called by God to sainthood.
So, today as the sun rises upon the seemingly lifeless body of Christ and the vast valley of dry bones that surround us in every direction, God has placed a pair of pincers and a hammer at your feet. Which will you choose?