Acheiropoietos Jesus Images in Constantinople: the Documentary Evidence

Daniel C. Scavone, University of Southern Indiana (6/21/96; 4/23/01; 2-25-04; 11-24-04, 12-02-05, 01-03-06, 10-07-2006

Numerous documents describe in important detail the presence in Constantinople of an icon of Jesus’s face on a cloth which in the year 944 had come from the city of Edessa, modern Urfa in southern Turkey. This icon, known also as the Mandylion,1 was said to be miraculously imprinted, a likeness not made by human hands, or acheiropoietos. In this chapter I have selected sixteen of these documents for close scrutiny. The documents span the period 944 to 1247. Four of the earliest documents, datable from 944 to 960, refer to the Mandylion alone. Six others, those dating from 1150, 1200, 1201, 1203, 1207, and 1247 also assert the presence in Constantinople of Christ’s burial wrapping, or portions thereof, along with the Mandylion. Six different documents from 958, c. 1095, 1157, 1171, 1205, and 1207, attest the burial wrappings but not the face cloth (Mandylion).

The emphasis upon a singular imaged cloth icon considered to be the actual burial wrapping in this study of acheiropoietos Jesus images is appropriate chiefly because one most important document of 1203, the memoire of Robert of Clari, a knight of Picardy, reported seeing “the burial cloth (sydoines) with the figure of the Lord on it. This text is considered below in

chronological order. In addition, numerous other documents beginning from the period of the Fourth Crusade, 1204, record the transfer of fragments of Christ’s reputed burial linens to various cathedrals in western Europe.2 These include the above-mentioned 1247 document, which is also the only record of the departure of the Edessa icon from Constantinople.3

One difficulty which presents itself to the historian is the great variety of terms used by these medieval sources to designate these two objects, the imaged face cloth and the linen(s) of burial. For the first we get sancta toella, imago Christi Edessena, ektypoma, linteum faciem Christi repraesentans, mantile, soudarion, mandylion, manutergium, sudarium super caput, ekmageion, prosopon, opsis, acheiropoietos, morphe, cheiromaktron tetradiplon, himation, and peplos. Of these, the last three suggest a cloth larger than a mere face-towel-sized icon. For the latter we have sindon, sudarium, linteamina, fasciae, panni, spargana, othonai kai ta soudaria, entaphioi sindones, and Clari’s Sydoines (sing.).4 Most of these latter are plurals, evidencing the likelihood that besides a large shroud icon other auxiliary linens associated with the burial of Jesus were claimed to be present.

A second problem addressed in this paper concerns the time of the arrival in the capital of the reputed burial shroud icon of Christ. Whereas the Mandylion was received in Constantinople with a great celebration (Documents I and III), not a single source records the arrival there of any larger Jesus-icon. It is, however, included in a number of documents, as already noted, and at least once explicitly with a Christ-image on it.

The implication of this is that the Mandylion and the burial wrap icons may prove to be one and the same object. This third and closely related question involves the size and, ultimately, the true nature of the imaged towel of Edessa. It was first mentioned in a 4th c. Syriac text known as the Doctrine of Addai and containing the legend of King Abgar V Ukama. The ailing King Abgar of Edessa (reigned ce 13-50) sent his agent-court painter Hanan to fetch the healer Jesus or at least to make a picture of him. By this version, the Mandylion was an icon, but painted “with choice colors” (the material, whether wood or parchment or cloth, not divulged). This phrase provides only the merest hint of any special quality of the Mandylion. The text makes no claims to any miracle; but both its words and its omissions ingenuously unlatch that door. Abgar was cured by means of the portrait, was converted by Addai, Jesus’ disciple, and Edessa became largely a Christian city. This account, which describes the icon’s coming to Edessa during Christ’s lifetime, must be taken with great care for it was possibly only a legend, albeit one embellished by certain and plausible historical data.5 By all the hard evidence, Christianity did not come to Edessa until the reign of Abgar VIII (CE 177-212) towards the end of the 2nd c. The account in the Edessan Archives of the great flood of 201 includes among the buildings destroyed “the sanctuary of the Christian church.6

In the 6th c. the Greek apocryphal book called the Acts of Thaddeus (=Greek for Addai) retold the Abgar legend with two important alterations. First, the image was heralded as miraculously imprinted on a cloth by Jesus himself (acheiropoietos) but still during his ministry. Second, the cloth is described as much larger than needed for a cheiromaktron or a face-towel. In this version, Abgar’s agent, in Greek named Ananias, could not capture the likeness of the Lord because of its dazzling brilliance, so Jesus compliantly washed his face and wiped off on a cloth which was oddly called a tetradiplon, (“four-doubled” = eight layered). Then, “having imprinted his image on the sindon he gave it to Ananias.”7 The operative word sindon is the N.T. synoptics’ word for large burial shroud. A sindon folded in eight layers, a single exposed panel of which could present a life-sized face, is large indeed. By the 8th c. and later, more and more references present clues pointing to a larger cloth while continuing to ascribe to it a miraculous or acheiropoietos nature. But for all its increasing size, it continued to be regarded as a cloth on which Jesus had wiped only his face, leaving its holy imprint. Its presence in Edessa is further attested in 544 when, according to the historian Evagrius, its miraculous powers saved that city from the siege imposed by King Chosroes of Persia.8

A development of the 10th c., one clearly associated with the Mandylion’s arrival in the capital and its accessibility to new and more sophisticated eyes, was the revelation in the two eyewitness sources produced immediately upon its arrival that the icon also had blood on its face and, surprisingly, that it had a bloodstain where Jesus had been stabbed in the side while on the cross. In light of these data and recalling the term sindon of the Acts of Thaddaeus, we may rephrase this third question: Could the Edessa Mandylion always have been a folded burial shroud icon now assumed in these Constantinopolitan sources to be the real blood-stained burial wrapping of Jesus, whose separate arrival in the capital is nowhere mentioned? This initial awareness of larger size and of blood on the Mandylion is the thrust of my first two documents.9 Although some Byzantine scholars have alleged that the history of the Edessa icon may contribute to the history of the Turin Shroud, my study does not address that issue, but only urges that the Mandylion and that shroud icon referenced in Constantinople until 1247 were one and the same.


On August 15, 944, amidst great celebrations, the Mandylion arrived in Constantinople from Edessa. It was still stretched out against a board and sealed inside its oblong case, the face visible in the circular central opening, as it was subsequently seen by artists who made copies of it.10

The entire cycle of the Mandylion’s legend and history can be found in this first document from Constantinople, the lengthy Narratio de imagine Edessena, written in or shortly after 944 (Weitzmann thinks on the first anniversary of its arrival in the capital), under the auspices of the scholarly future Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus.11 On the day of its arrival, Constantine and his two brothers-in-law, sons of Emperor Romanus Lecapenus, had a private viewing of the icon. The Narratio retells in detail the Abgar legend and relates that Ma’nu, grandson of the now-Christian Abgar V, still in the first century, returned to paganism and that the cloth was kept safe by Christians by being sealed in a niche in the city wall above the Sacred Gate.1 2

In time it was forgotten. The Narratio recounts its miraculous rediscovery and cites Evagrius for its storied protection of Edessa in 544. However one need not accept the story of its being hidden or its defense of the city as literal truth. The Narratio continues with the legend that a lamp, placed in the niche with the cloth centuries earlier, was miraculously still lit, and a tile placed protectively over the cloth now contained an identical miraculous image.1 3

What interests us now is Constantine’s personal description of the image: It was extremely faint, more like a “moist secre­tion without pigment or the painter’s art.”1 4 Equally curious‑‑and increasingly significant in light of Documents III and IV‑-is a second version of the origin of the Edessa cloth which comes later in this same Narratio and which Constantine says he preferred:

There is another story: . . . When Christ was about to go voluntarily to death . . . sweat dripped from him like drops of blood. Then they say he took this piece of cloth which we see now from one of the disciples and wiped off the drops of sweat on it.1 5

This version would be inexplicable unless we suppose that traces of blood were noticed on the face. Since the Edessa versions of the Abgar story exclude any idea of blood, the Narratio, product of an eyewitness, offers this variation along with the original version.1 6


The Narratio’s account of a nearly imperceptible image is corroborated and embellished by Symeon Magister, writing his Chronographia also in the tenth century and likely also under the influence of Constantine VII. He asserts that while Constantine could see the faint image in its details (eyes and ears: ophthαlmoύς κaι oτα) his two brothers‑in‑law and rivals for the throne could barely make out an outline.1 7


As recently as 1986 a Rome classicist, G. Zaninotto, turned up in the Vatican Archives a 17-page Greek text (Codex Vaticanus Graecus 511) of a sermon delivered by one Gregory, Archdeacon and referendarius of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, on August 16, 944, the day after the Mandylion’s arrival. As an eyewitness of the events, Gregory again recites the original Abgar legend, and he describes the image as formed by “the perspiration of death on [Jesus’] face.” Then comes the most arresting part: he speaks of the wound in Jesus’ side (πλευρα) and the blood and water found there (haιμα κaι hydor eκεi):

[This image of Christ] was imprinted only by the perspiration of the agony running down the face of the Prince of life as clots of blood drawn by the finger of God. . . . And the portrait . . .has been embellished by the drops from his own side. The two things are full of instruction: blood and water there, and here the perspiration and figure. The realities are equal for they derive from one and the same being. . . . teaching that the perspiration which formed the image and which made the side to bleed were of the same nature that formed the portrait.18

Describing the Edessa cloth, then, Gregory has divulged that it might have contained more than a facial image. Yet, for all this, it is curious that he did not express an iota of surprise at his unanticipated observation of the side wound on a cloth that for centuries hitherto was supposed by all to bear the face only of the Lord. He did not draw the reasonable and obvious conclusion, that the blood-stained Edessa Mandylion might actually be Jesus’ grave cloth.19 In his defense, it had just then arrived from Edessa, and with it had come an old and venerated legend that could not easily be cast aside. It is not a question of actual blood and miraculous images, but of the perception of the people of those centuries.


A letter of the same Constantine VII to encourage his troops campaigning around Tarsus in 958 is the first explicit introduction of the burial shroud icon of Jesus in this context. The letter announced that the Emperor was sending a supply of holy water consecrated by contact with the relics of Christ’s Passion which were then in the capital. No mention is made of the recently acquired Mandylion: as a relic of Jesus’ ministry it would have been out of place among the relics of the Passion. Reference is made, however, to

the precious wood [of the cross], the unstained lance, the precious inscription [probably the titulus attached to the cross], the reed which caused miracles, the life‑giving blood from his side, the venerable tunic, the sacred linens (σπάργαvα), the sindon which God wore, and other symbols of the immaculate Passion.2 0


The term used here for “sacred linens,” spargana, usually means infant’s “swaddling cloths,” but here must mean burial linens, as it does in several other texts. The precise identity of this sindon has been enigmatic, since no mention exists of the arrival in the capital of Jesus’ burial sheet, but it acquires some clarity with Zaninotto’s recovery of Doc. III. Just as in the Gregory Sermon, the words of this text may suggest that the Byzantines could see “blood” from the side of the figure depicted on a cloth.

Document III is strong evidence that the Edessa icon was indeed a larger object, harmonious with the words sindon and tetradiplon of the Acts of Thaddeus, and was seen to be stained red in the correct places. It must thus have been unfolded in Constantinople sometime after its arrival in 944. A possible unfolding is evidenced by the imperial letter of 958 (Doc. IV), where suddenly, without fanfare, Jesus’ sindon is first announced. At the time of its arrival in 944, the status of the Edessa icon must, it seems, be understood as follows: Still enframed or encased as described earlier and as seen by artists, and still generally considered to be the towel of the Abgar narratives, and in the treasury of the Byzantine emperors it was inaccessible to the public (as it had been in Edessa). Its size (larger and folded in eight layers) and nature were not fully known and not often pondered. Certainly its possible identity as Jesus’ bloody burial wrapping was not immediately recognized or, if it was, then by only a few intimates and not generally broadcast. The Byzantines were too much under the spell of the Abgar cycle to have considered the implications of the side-wound. The evidence for this last point is the absence of any hint of a shroud in Gregory’s sermon (Doc. III), though his words hint strongly that he was looking at the entire body on the Edessan cloth. With the Mandylion folded in eight so as to expose only a facial panel, the chest‑with‑side wound section might have been available to the view of Gregory, upside-down on the opposite side, without requiring a complete unfolding with consequent recognition.2 1


Von Dobschütz (110**-114**) identified the next important document appended to two codices of the Narratio. He called it the “Liturgical Tractate,” and attributed to it a date around 960. Its importance lies in its description of the rituals and preservation of the imaged cloth while it had been in Edessa. In that city the image had been shown to the public only rarely. On its festival day,

a throne was brought forward and on it was placed the revered and acheiropoietos image of Christ and God, draped with a white linen cloth. Four bishops, if they happened to be present, or otherwise four presbyters, elevated the throne, and holding it aloft they came out of the treasure chamber, the archbishop leading the way.

During Holy Week a second exposition occurred.

The archbishop alone entered the room of the icon. He opened the chest (theke) in which it had been kept, and with a wet sponge that had never been used, he would wipe the icon and then dispense among the whole people the drops that could be squeezed out. . . . And since the old chest was encased with shutters, so that it would not be visible to all whenever they wished, on these two days of the week–I mean on Thursday and Saturday–when these shutters, so to speak, were opened up by means of very slender iron rods that were thrust through (these were called “sceptres”), then all the assembled throng gazed upon it; and every person besought with prayers its incomprehensible power. But nobody was allowed to draw near to it, or to touch their lips or eyes to the holy shape. So holy dread increased their faith, and made them shiver with yet more awe in their worship.

This text does not speak to the question of what really lay within the shuttered theke in Edessa, whether a small towel with facial image or a folded larger tetradiplon.2 2

Whatever the chronology of an unfolding and recognition in Constantinople, no significant new information, whether about the Mandylion or the burial shroud, appears again in the capital’s documents for more than a century after 960 (Doc. V). During that time only casual references to one or the other occur. Still we may be sure the cloth or cloths in question remained the property of the Emperors, for subsequent references describe them exactly as previous documents had. Significantly, from 958 on, the burial cloth icon is named in every description of the imperial relic collection.


A letter which bears the date 1095 falls next under our purview. It purports to be an invitation sent by Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus (1081‑1118) to his friend Robert the Frisian, Count of the Flemings (1071‑1093) and to all the princes of the realm (the Holy Roman Empire?). The letter announces that the Greek Empire was under constant siege throughout by Patzinaks and Turks and bemoans the attrocities perpetrated by these pagans. They are, it goes on, lately invading the area of Constantinople itself and will soon take the capital. Alexius then asserts that he prefers that the capital should be captured (sic) by western Christian knights rather than by the abominable Turks, moreso because the city houses great treasures as well as the precious relics of the Lord. These are then named, and include, unequivocally for the first time in these sources, “the linen cloths found in the sepulchre after his resurrection.”

To dismiss this letter as a spurious piece of Latin propaganda virtually making the Byzantine emperor beg for the Latins’ expropriation of the imperial relics during the Fourth Crusade is to miss its significance as a Byzantine document referring to the presence of Jesus’ burial wrappings in Constantinople. Indeed, were it not for the enigmatic Document IV, this letter would be the first such reference. Most historians have agreed that Alexius would not have written such words, but they also concur that this epistula probably “depends on an authentic letter of the basileus” written with another end in mind and that it dates, variously, from 1091 to 1105.

Kurt Weitzmann and Hans Belting have shown that by c. 1100 Byzantine iconography had evolved a new style in the depiction of the events of Easter: the threnos or “Lamentation.” The contemporaneity of this epistula and the developed threnos art in Byzantium is striking, for thus it signals with a twin corroboration what the large burial cloth icon of Christ must have looked like. Jesus is now shown lying upon a full‑length shroud after being removed from the cross; in many examples he is naked and with hands folded upon his abdomen or over his loins. In addition to this new mural art, Byzantine epitaphioi or embroidered cloth, symbolizing Jesus’ shroud in the Good Friday liturgy, show Jesus in full-length, i.e., in the threnos attitude.2 3

Before the next document from Constantinople may be studied, a group of Latin texts should be considered. The Abgar legend had already come to the West and was known to the Aquitainian pilgrim Egeria at the time when she visited Edessa (ca. 394). Rufinus’ 5th c. Latin translation of Eusebius’ Church History included the latter’s Abgar account. These early versions did not mention the image, but only Jesus’ letter to Abgar promising to send a disciple to heal him. But in a sermon pronounced in 769 Pope Stephen III employed the story of Abgar–this time reciting the episode of the miraculous Jesus image–to oppose the iconoclast movement then current in the Greek church. He seems to translate directly the received Greek form of Jesus’ letter responding to Abgar’s request for a cure: “Since you wish to look upon my physical face, I am sending you a likeness of my face on a cloth . . .” With these words, the Pope urges, Christ himself was advocating the use of religious images.2 4

Somehow–via returning crusaders?–the Abgar story became quite popular in the West in the 12th c. Von Dobschütz (138**) included a tractate which he called the “Oldest Latin Abgar Text.”25 Von Dobschütz thought it derived from a lost Syriac original of the 8th c. In addition, two other western writers of the Abgar story provide an important clue in the emergent and widening awareness both that the Edessa cloth was larger than originally thought and that it contained a full-body image of Jesus. They are the Ecclesiastical History of the English monk Ordericus Vitalis, ca. 1141; and the otia imperialia of Gervase of Tilbury, ca. 1211.

In Edessa, it seems, the image was always described as a face only. What is remarkable about these Latin Abgar accounts is the fact that in all of them, what Abgar received was not just a facial image, but one which enabled the viewer to discern the form and stature of Jesus’ entire body.2 6 If they truly derive from a lost Syriac original from Edessa’s archives, as they claim, each one drawing its claim from its own immediate source, they open the possibility (only hinted at in the sources) that already in Edessa someone had known that the Mandylion was an icon of Christ’s entire body.

The clue leading to the conclusion that the lost Syriac original used by the western sources was written before the Mandylion left Edessa in 944 is the line in all three Latin texts that “this linen from antiquity still remains uncorrupted in Syrian Mesopotamia in Edessa”. (Qui linteus adhuc vetustate temporis permanens incorruptus in Mesopotamia Syrie apud Edissam civitatem.) Again, the descriptions of the image, no longer as face-only but now as entire body, relate chronologically to (a) the emergent threnos and epitaphios scenes in the East, which themselves suggest b) an awareness of an imaged shroud of Jesus, and (c) could be witnessed by Western Crusaders in Byzantine churches. Yet only in our Document VI was the much larger and imaged Mandylion recognized as a burial sindon. The Abgar/Mandylion mind-set retained its hold on the authors of the Latin versions, even while they (and possibly their original Syriac source-text) had altered the legend in a significant manner.

Gervase of Tilbury had certainly heard of a cloth bearing the full image of Jesus. Besides giving the old Abgar/Edessa version, he even gives a second account of a bloodied full-body image on a cloth, this time in a context related to the burial of Christ; it has no parallel in Byzantium, to my knowledge; but it is acheiropoietos. He writes:

There is another figure of the Lord expressed on cloth which has its origin in Gestis de Vultu Lucano (the events surrounding the Volto Santo of Lucca). When the Lord our Redeemer, hung from the cross stripped of his clothing, Joseph of Arimathea approached Mary, the mother of the Lord, and the other women who had followed the Lord in His Passion, and said: Do you love Him so little that you allow him to hang there naked and not do anything about it? Moved by this castigation, the mother and the others with her bought a spotless linteum so ample and large that it covered the whole body, and when He was taken down the image of the whole body hanging from the cross appeared expressed on the linen.2 7

Note that it is certain from his writings that Gervase never saw the actual cloth.

Deriving, as they claim, from a pre-944 Edessan text, all three Latin texts include information about the rituals associated with the image when it was in Edessa. And this lends credence to their claim of a Syriac model. Most notably, they state that the cloth with full-body image was kept in a gold chest (scrinium) and that:

[when displayed] on Easter it used to change its appearance according to different ages, that is, it showed itself in infancy at the first hour of the day, childhood at the third hour, adolescence at the sixth hour, and the fullness of age at the ninth hour, when the Son of God came to His Passion for the weight of our sins and endured the awful sacrifice of the cross.2 8


Oddly this did not appear in the “Liturgical Tractate” where Edessan rituals were earlier described. What can these words mean? The most acceptable answer is one that harmonizes with two other eyewitness descriptions of the cloth in Documents XI and XII. Accepting from the texts already discussed that Edessa’s cloth bore a faint painting of an entire body, we may infer from Documents XI and XII that the image of the full and bloodstained body was revealed gradually by the unfolding of the cloth in sections, beginning with the feet and lastly showing the whole bloodstained body. The comparison of the gradually unfolded increments of the body with successive periods of Christ’s life would thus have been symbolic, part of the belief-system of the Edessenes. It may be instructive to notice that the Byzantine cross has a diagonal suppedaneum (foot-rest), for which the Greek Orthodox Church has no standard explanation. But it suggests a belief that one of Christ’s legs was shorter than the other. Supporting this are many medieval iconic depictions of the Virgin and Child in which one of Jesus’s feet seems deformed. In addition, the coins of Basil I (867-886) show Christ enthroned on the obverse, but with one foot deformed. Thus by this interpretation, something in the appearance of the feet of the Jesus image on the Edessa cloth would have suggested “infancy.” The final stage (entire body) clearly relates to the Passion. How the two intermediate relationships (legs with lower torso and then upper torso below the neck) fit this interpretation is not immediately apparent to a modern non-Byzantine.2 9


What determinations can be made from all this? Eusebius and others had long since made reference to Syriac archives in Edessa. From these archives Eusebius (d. 340) related the account of the exchange of letters between Abgar and Jesus. He omitted any mention of an image, whether painted or acheiropoietos. Others, beginning with the Doctrine of Addai (ca. 390) made more of the painted image in the cure of Abgar than of the letter of Jesus. The Syriac archives remain a constant. The Acts of Thaddeus (6th c.) made the image miraculous on a tetradiplon on which Jesus wiped his face. About 594 Evagrius told a story about the icon saving Edessa during the siege of Chosroes of Persia in 544. The Latin discourse (769) of Pope Stephen seems to retain the face-only icon, his terms being faciem and vultus, the latter capable of expressing the entire person. The Narratio of Constantine VII (944) still presented us a miraculous Christ-face icon. At some time after 769 but before 944, it would seem that some Syric document (as the western Latin Abgar texts claim) attested to a full-body image on this cloth and also related an Edessan ritual connected with the city’s special and very secretly kept icon. Even if the western documents misunderstood their source, and the ritual was one practiced not in Edessa but after 944 in Constantinople, where the threnos or burial shroud art was emerging and would by 1100 have been known to westerners, it would not materially alter the conclusions of this paper.3 0


The Edessa cloth with facial image is not mentioned in Constantinople again until 1150 by an English pilgrim to Constantinople. He saw what he describes as a gold container, capsula aurea, in which “is the mantile which, applied to the Lord’s face, retained the image of his face.”3 1 He also mentions the “sudarium which was over his head.” It is yet another reference to a funerary cloth of Jesus in Constantinople, though it does not seem to be a body shroud.3 2 This and the following three documents continue the confusion that thwarts one’s efforts to identify the precise objects in the imperial relic collection.


Seven years later (1157) this confusion of terms continues when Nicholas Soemundarson (Thingeyrensis), an Icelandic pilgrim, wrote in his native Icelandic his very detailed inventory of the palace relics. Riant has given us a Latin translation of Nicholas’ Icelandic: “fasciae with sudarium and blood of Christ.” Nicholas made no mention of the frame or box holding the cloth of Edessa, and indeed, the reference to blood demands that we interpret these as Passion cloths. Meanwhile, as between fasciae (“bands”), as distinguished from sudarium, both Latin translations from Icelandic, it is possible but not certain that one of the terms may denote a larger body cloth.3 3


In 1171 Archbishop William of Tyre was admitted, he says, into the imperial treasury, where saw the syndon of Christ. This is the ordinary New Testament word for a body shroud and its sometime use in these contexts to denote the Edessa cloth seems only to hint further that either the Edessa cloth was larger than a face-towel or that another cloth, large and bloodstained, was present in the treasury.3 4 After this time, both the Edessa cloth and the burial linens regularly appear in the same inventories.

In 1200 the inventory of Antonius of Novgorod similarly names two linen cloths: linteum and “linteum representing the face of Christ.”3 5 Recall that earlier documents had tended towards the conclusion that the Edessa cloth was large (tetradiplon) and bloodied, and therefore might be identical with that cloth reputed in the inventories to be the burial wrapping of Jesus. The text of Antonius does nothing to elucidate those conclusions.


The plot thickens when Nicholas Mesarites, in 1201 the skeuophylax (overseer) of the treasuries in the Pharos Chapel of the Boucoleon Palace of the emperors in Constantinople, again describes two separate objects. One is

the Burial sindones of Christ: these are of linen. They are of cheap and easy to find material, and defying destruction since they wrapped the uncircumscribed, fragrant‑with‑myrrh, naked body after the Passion. . . . In this place He rises again and the sudarium and the burial sindons can prove it . . .3 6


The words of this eyewitness intimate that he had seen a naked man’s image on one of these cloths. His use of the word aperileipton, “uncircum­scribed,” suggests that this image was lacking an outline. It could also be rendered as “uncontainable,” meaning that the limitless spiritual nature of God had somehow been contained in these cloths at the time when Jesus’ body was wrapped inside them. His reference to the Passion implies the visible presence of blood on the cloth. Without too great a stretch, Mesarites’ words provide us an eyewitness confirmation of the hints developed from so many other documents already discussed.

Nicholas, however, also specifically mentions as a separate second object in his care the towel (cheiromaktron) with a “prototypal” (prototupw) image of Jesus on it made “as if by some art of drawing not wrought by hand (acheiropoietw).”3 6 again So any absolute confirmation of the identification (made possible by the Gregory sermon, Document III, et al) of the Edessan Mandylion (facial image only) and shroud of Jesus (whole body image with presence of visible blood and water from the side wound) remains elusive.


A burial sydoines certainly bearing the figure of the Lord is described in the Church of Our Lady of Blachernae by Robert of Clari, knight of the Fourth Crusade on tour in Constantinople in 1203‑04. This passage has long been regarded by scholars of the Turin Shroud as the locus classicus attesting the presence in the Eastern capital of that famous Shroud:

There was another of the churches which they called My Lady Saint Mary of Blachernae, where was kept the sydoines in which Our Lord had been wrapped, which stood up straight every Friday so that the features of Our Lord could be plainly seen there. And no one, either Greek or French, ever knew what became of this sydoines after the city was taken.37


Clari also saw elsewhere, in the relic treasury of the Pharos Church of the imperial palace (that treasury in Mesarites’ care two years prior), the two tabulae or cases which supposedly contained the famous Edessa towel (touaile) and the imaged tile (tiule).38 Importantly, Clari never said he had seen the contents of these tabulae. Taken with the previous document of Mesarites, the words of Clari are refreshingly supportive. The imaged burial wrapping in Blachernae chapel seems to be identifiable with that which Mesarites protected in the Pharos treasury. Mesarites’ words “He rises again” seem paralleled by Clari’s “stood straight up,” and may refer to its being displayed by being gradually pulled up from its case until one could see the naked and blood-stained body of Christ. The resonance with the Edessa scrinium ritual is strong. Assuming the Byzantines were not foolish enough to make the claim of actual burial wrapping about two objects, it is possible to believe that the same cloth was moved up the coast and displayed every Friday or that during the extreme vulnerability of the city while the European knights were present, the cloth was kept in the Blachernae palace (current residence of the emperors) and displayed in its ancient Edessan role as talisman to protect its new city from her enemies. It must be urged that the situation in the capital in 1203, when the Crusaders were present, was much changed from that of 1201 when Mesarites wrote the words of Document XI. Objects might well have been moved for reasons unknown to us.39


The last four documents bear upon the vexing question of the departure from Constantinople of the miraculously imaged cloths (acheiropoietoi) and their subsequent fortunes. Three of them have seemed to point to their continued presence in the capital as late as 1207 and possibly (Doc. XVI) until 124l. The present paper urges that upon examination these documents do not prove this at all, and in fact one of them (Doc. XIV) strongly suggests that the burial wrappings were present in Athens already by 1206. Document XV asserts that the sindon was indeed in Athens in 1205.


In 1207 the same Nicholas Mesarites, former overseer of relics, was in the capital pronouncing his eulogy (Epitaphios) for his deceased brother, John. We must understand that for the last three years he had been totally excluded from any official function in the capital, and certainly from the Pharos relic treasury. Indeed, Latin clerics had replaced Greeks in every important capacity including that of Patriarch.4 0 In the midst of this speech, Nicholas conjured up for the Greeks then present in Hagia Sophia a reminiscence of the greatness of their city which his brother had served so loyally, and of the atrocities of the looting by the crusaders, which he himself had witnessed. In this eulogy Mesarites again refers to Constantinople as possessing the burial wrappings of Jesus, and this reference has been used as evidence that the Shroud was still present in the city in 1207.4 1 The latter position breaks down when it is noticed that in fact, Mesarites’ words in the Epitaphios are largely a direct quote from his 1201 report (Doc. XI) and are used by him here only for rhetorical effect.4 2

1. In both places Mesarites lists the relics of Jesus’ Passion, including the burial wrappings.

2. Both texts employ the symetrical contrast of Constantinople and Judaea: the Passion occurred there, but the relics are here.

3. Both texts add, identically, “Why should I go on and on? . . . (The Lord himself) is here, as if in the original, his impression stamped in the towel and impressed into the easily broken clay (tile) as if in some graphic art not wrought by hand.”


4. He completes both texts by stating in each, but in a different order, that this place (Constantinople) is another Bethlehem, another Jerusalem, Tiberias, Nazareth, Bethany, Mount Tabor, and another Golgotha.

Since, additionally, every existing document dealing with the Latins’ disposition of the relics and with the diminished role of the Greek clergy after the sack is evidence that Mesarites no longer had any knowledge of the whereabouts of the relics of which he had been the solicitous guardian in 1201, the Epitaphios of 1207 clearly is not a proof that the shroud of Jesus was still in Constantinople at that time, but only that Mesarites and his audience of Greek prelates thought it was.


In the years immediately after the Latin takeover of Constantinople in 1204, a series of discussions took place between Greek clergy and papal envoys, often presided over by the newly seated Latin Patriarch, dealing with their disagreements over dogma and how to reconcile them and bring the Greek Orthodox Church back into the Roman fold. These differences included the filioque issue, the Greek use of leavened as against the Latin church’s use of unleavened bread in the Eucharist, and the general but ultimate question of papal primacy.4 3

One of the interpreters at these meetings, a man fluent in both Latin and Greek, was Nicholas of Otranto, abbot of Casole monastery in southern Italy. In 1205 he greeted the new papal legate, Benedict of St. Susanna,4 4 then on his way to Constantinople via Brindisi, and accompanied him through Greece to the capital. There he served as Benedict’s personal interpreter and translator. The literary legacy of this little‑known scholar includes some poetry and at least three reports of the disputations in which he served as interpreter. These were written both in Greek and in his own Latin translations.4 5


His reference to the shroud of Jesus comes in the midst of his discussion in 1207 of the use of yeast in the Eucharistic meal of the Last Supper. A portion of that very bread had been present, the Byzantines had asserted, in the imperial relic collection. Among the relics of the Passion, which he now enumerated, were a portion of that bread and Jesus’ spargana, Greek for “linens.” This word normally renders infant’s swaddling clothes, and the fascia of his Nicholas’ Latin translation does not help. Since, however, Nicholas was listing relics of the Passion, he must mean burial linens. Here is the crucial passage:

When the city was captured by the French knights, entering as thieves,

even in the treasury of the Great Palace where the holy objects were

placed, they found among other things the precious wood, the crown

of thorns, the sandals of the Savior, the nail (sic), and the spargana/fascia which we (later) saw with our own eyes. 4 6


This passage, too, has been assumed to prove that the burial shroud was still in the capital in 1207.4 7 Certainly Nicholas Hydruntinus, as this Nicholas is sometimes called, as the interpreter for a western prelate, was more likely than Mesarites to know the contents of the relic treasury in 1207. It is possible that he may have been admitted among the relics, not because he clearly claims so, but only as an inference from Benedict’s high rank among Latin prelates: he was the papal legate, who himself shipped a large consignment of relics to Pope Innocent III in the spring of 1205.4 8 More promising, however, is the fact that Nicholas says something in another context which may be decisive in any efforts to discover the whereabouts of Jesus’ reputed blood-stained shroud after 1204. Benedict and he had in 1206 traveled in Thessalonika and Athens debating the same questions of Church unification with the Greek theologians in those places.4 9 It is the reference to Athens which is significant, for it may be there that Nicholas saw the burial linens “with our own eyes,” which is such a peculiar part of the passage cited at length above.5 0 If he had seen the linens and other relics in the capital, he would not likely make such a comment. Further he seems to say he saw them after the Crusaders looted the treasuries. The next document fortifies the possibility of the linens in Athens.


In the wake of the Fourth Crusade large portions of Greece fell into the hands of or were awarded to western knights as fiefs from the Latin Byzantine Emperor Baldwin of Flanders and later from his brother Henry. Thus Boniface of Montferrat occupied the Kingdom of Thessalonika; William of Champlitte and later Geoffrey of Villehardouin, nephew of Guillaume de Villehardouin the historian, controlled the Morea (Peloponnese) as Prince of Achaea; and Othon de La Roche became Lord of Athens, to which Thebes was later added. The territory of Epirus, however, remained a center of Greek power under Michael Angelus as Despot. Michael and his brother, Theodore, were nephews of Isaac II Angelus, one of three Byzantine Emperors who were deposed during the Fourth Crusade. The document in this instance is a letter dated 1 August 1205 from Theodore in the name of Michael to Pope Innocent III. Here are the pertinent passages.

Theodore Angelus wishes long life for Innocent [III], Lord and Pope at old

Rome, in the name of Michael, Lord of Epirus and in his own name.

In April of last year a crusading army, having falsely set out to

liberate the Holy Land, instead laid waste the city of Constantine.

During the sack, troops of Venice and France looted even the holy

sanctuaries. The Venetians partitioned the treasures of gold, silver,


and ivory while the French did the same with the relics of the saints

and the most sacred of all, the linen in which our Lord Jesus Christ

was wrapped after his death and before the resurrection. We know

that the sacred objects are preserved by their predators in Venice,

in France, and in other places, the sacred linen in Athens . . .

Rome, Kalends of August, 1205.51

The letter was published in 1902 but was not considered in the present connection. The Greek original had by then been lost. If this letter is authentic, and its publication was accompanied by a suitably convincing authentication, then it is even more probable that it was in Athens that Nicholas of Otranto saw this cloth. If so, instead of the previously frustrating total absence of documentation concerning the departure from Constantinople of Jesus’ burial wrapping, we now possess two documents which tend to place it in Athens after the sack and already by 1205.


The final document in this series has been used by some historians to place Jesus’ shroud in Constantinople as late as 1247.52 Here is its background. The Latin Empire of Constantinople was destined to end in 1261 when the Greek Lascarids expelled the crusaders. But by 1238 Bulgars and Greeks were closing in on the capital, and the last Latin Byzantine Emperor, Baldwin II, was sorely in need of funds to maintain his armies. In order to raise these funds he was driven to the extremity of pawning the treasured objects expropriated from the Byzantine monarchs and also their precious relic collection, most notably among which was an object purporting to be the Crown of Thorns, which he mortgaged to the bankers of Venice in 1238 (Riant, Exuviae II, 118-128). In the following year this supposedly authentic relic was redeemed by King St. Louis IX of France and duly transferred to Paris (St. Denis). Soon afterwards, Louis had the extraordinary Sainte Chapelle constructed as a housing for the Crown of Thorns and other relics arriving in Paris by various routes and hands from Constantinople.

In 1241 two other shipments of relics were sent by Baldwin to Louis as surety for another loan. A cutting from the Shroud figured among these latter relics. Finally our document, a Golden Bull of Baldwin II, ceded all these relics, which are enumerated, to the French King in perpetuity, in consideration for still another loan. In view of the letter of Theodore of Epirus which complained that the shroud had been removed to Athens by 1205, it is important to examine this Bull carefully. And in fact when this is done, it can be seen that the Bull does not assert the shroud’s presence in Constantinople in 1241. Rather, it merely lists among the relics ceded to Louis “part of the sudarium (pars sudarii) in which Christ’s body was wrapped in the tomb.”53 Far from stating that Baldwin cut a section from the cloth still in his possession, it suggests a corroboration of what is known from numerous other sources, that portions of relics were often removed in order to be shared with other churches and that what Baldwin had to send to Louis in 1241 was more likely a portion cut off before the shroud departed for Athens.54 Indeed, if Baldwin was willing to part with the entire Crown of Thorns, which he might easily have retained, parting only with individual thorns that might be and were easily removed, each thorn of infinite monetary value, why should we suppose he would hesitate to part with the entire Shroud, if he had had it?


The Bull of 1247 also cedes to King Louis IX the “holy towel inserted in a frame” (sanctam toellam tabule insertam), and so it seems also to document the departure from the imperial Pharos treasury of the Byzantine emperors of that object to which Nicholas Mesarites and Robert of Clari referred in 1201 and 1203 as the encased Edessa cloth bearing the face of Jesus. It is indeed likely that by 1200 the object to which these texts refer might have been a mere copy of the face on the Edessa cloth. This point was made in the most illuminating history of the Turin Shroud by Ian Wilson (1978). Recall that although the imperial letter of 958 (Doc. IV) named a burial cloth, it was not until 1095 (Doc. VI) that the documents began to attest more regularly to a recognition of the burial cloth in the capital. Both Mesarites and Clari appear to corroborate what the cumulative documents from the 6th to the 12th c. suggest: that the Edessa cloth was eventually unframed and discovered to hold an impression of the entire and bloodied body of Jesus.55 That which came to known as the toella in tabula inserta would then and logically be a copy of Edessa’s Mandylion as it had appeared—i.e., the face only of Jesus—upon its arrival in Constantinople.

To sum up the points made in this paper: a linen cloth or cloths described as the burial wrappings of Jesus are attested in many Constantinople documents from 944 to 1203, twice with his image if one counts Mesarites (Doc. XI), and several times described as bloodied. No record exists of the arrival of Jesus’ burial cloth in the capital, and no celebration such as accompanied the Edessa cloth in 944. Yet it was there. Judging from copious documents and artistic representations made in Constantinople and elsewhere from 944 to 1150, the Edessa towel always with the image of Jesus’ face may be identical with Jesus’ Shroud in folded form, enclosed in a case with face exposed. Before that, from at latest 544 to 944, this cloth was certainly in Edessa. If the Edessa cloth and Jesus’ purported shroud are indeed one and the same object, that assumed burial cloth may have a pedigree back at least to 544, and if the Abgar legend has any historical worth, to the 4th c. and even, accepting the descriptive evidence, to the very time of Christ. If the pieces of this elaborate puzzle truly fit as they seem to, the blood-stained burial cloth with faint unpainted image would have a documented history back to palaeochristianity and may in fact be the actual tomb wrapping of Jesus.

The three documents which have been customarily adduced to prove the burial cloth to have been in Constantinople after the crusaders’ sack in 1204 are seen on examination of their contents and context not to do so. And in fact, one of them, the treatise of Nicholas of Otranto, supports its presence in Athens with Othon de La Roche, where the letter of Theodore of Epirus also places it in 1205.



Various plausible historical reconstructions have been proposed by which the bloodstained burial sheet of Constantinople with image of Jesus’s entire body turned up in Lirey, France about 1355. The most cogent of these itineraries consign the cloth either to the care of the Knights Templar until their demise in 1307, or to Othon’s city of Besanηon in Franche Comtθ from about 1208 until 1349, or to King Louis IX’s Sainte Chapelle from about 1247. Unless one wishes to pursue these, one is left with Robert de Clari’s rather final judgment that no one knew what became of it after the city was sacked in 1204.5 6

***This paper owes its origins to the numerous leads provided by British author Ian Wilson. And the debt is immense. Gratitude goes also to Fr. Adam Otterbein (+) the University of Southern Indiana, and the scholars, those who generously read early drafts of this paper, and those on whose shoulders I now stand.


1 Robert Drews, In Search of the Shroud of Turin (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Allanheld 1984) 39, noted that the word "Mandylion" first appeared in 990 in a biography of the ascetic Paul of Mt. Latros, who was granted a miraculous vision of "the icon of Christ not made by hands, which is commonly [sýnethes] called the holy Mandylion." Synethes, however, suggests earlier occasions of the word. This paper is heavily indebted to Ernst von Dobschütz, Christusbilder, Untersuchungen zur christlichen Legende (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung 1899). This priceless study was paginated as three volumes in one: 1-294; 1*-335*; and 1**-355**.

2 Paul Edouard Didier Riant, Exuviae sacrae constantinopolitanae, 2 vols. (Geneva: Sociètè de l’orient latin 1878). See also Riant, Dépouilles religieuses enlevés a Constantinople au XIIIe siècle par les latins et documents historiques nés de leur transport en occident (Paris: Sociètè Nationale des antiquaires de France 1875). Jean Ebersolt, Sanctuaires de Byzance: recherches sur les anciens trésors des eglises de Constantinople (Paris: Editions Ernst Leroux 1921).

3 See especially Riant, Exuviae (above, n. 2) II.133‑35.

4 Many of these terms will be found in their appropriate contexts in the notes to this paper. The list is not exhaustive. See von Dobschütz (n. 1) 248** for a litany of the terms used to describe the Mandylion. Also see Drews (n. 1) 38f.

5 George Howard, tr. from Syriac, The Teaching of Addai (Chico, CA: Scholars Press 1981) 3-13. L.-J. Tixeront, L’Église d’Édesse et la Légende d’

Abgar (Paris: Maisonneuve et Ch. Leclercs 1888), 81-103, discussed the scholarly arguments about the dates of this work and placed it in the early 4th c. Eusebius says three times that he translated the Abgar legend from Syriac originals in the archives of Edessa and twice that he cited word for word (pros lexin). Tixeront concluded that this was the document that Eusebius translated but lightly retouched and interpolated, possibly in light of the main ideas of the Council of Nicaea 325. Eusebius (H.E. I. 13. 1-22) describes only a letter sent by Jesus to Abgar, but no portrait, miraculous or otherwise. Eusebius (c. 260-340) was an early opponent of images, and he may have omitted that element if it was present in the Edessan archive he consulted. He also changed Addai to Thaddeus. Cyril Mango, The Art of the Byzantine Empire 312-1453. (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall 1972) gives Eusebius’s Letter to Constantia (sister of Constantine the Great) 16-18, which manifests the bishop’s iconoclastic position. The same 4th c. attitude to images is seen in the letters of Epiphanius of Salamis to Emperor Theodosius and to John, Bishop of Aelia on the imaged curtain in the Anablatha (Jerusalem) church in Mango 41-43.

6 On the question of Christianity’s establishment in Edessa, see J. B. Segal, Edessa, "The Blessed City" (Oxford: Clarendon 1970) and his bibliography. See Steven Runciman, "Some Remarks on the Image of Edessa," Cambridge Historical Journal, III. 1929-1931, 238-252 and Walter Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1971) Ch. 1. For the archival Chronicle of Edessa, L. Hallier, Untersuchungen über die Edessensiche Chronik, 48-53 and 84-91. The account of the great flood of 201 in Edessa includes among the buildings destroyed "the sanctuary of the Christian church. See also Terence Towers, "The Holy Face of Edessa," The Downside Review, 90 (1972).

7 Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., "Acts of the Holy Apostle Thaddaeus, One of the Twelve," in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VIII (New York: Scribners 1899) 558, esp. n. 4. Greek in von Dobschtz (n. 1) 182*: καὶ ἐπεδόθη αὐτᾡ τετράδιπλov, καὶ vιψάμεvoς ἀπεμάξατo τὴv ὂψιv αὐτoΰ. ἐvτυπωθείσης δέ της εἰκόvoς αὐτoΰ έv τῇ σιvδόvι ἐπέδωκεv τᾡ Ἀvαvίᾳ . . .

8 Evagrius, HE 4.27 in von Dobschütz (supra, n. 1) 68** and 70**, introduces the image during the siege in 544. See too Robert Drews (n. 1), ch. 5. This text effectively counters the position of Averil Cameron (infra, n. 9) based on Procopius.


9 See n. 14 below. That Mandylion and burial wrapping may be one and the same, has been well-argued by Ian Wilson, The Turin Shroud (London: Victor Gollancz, Ltd. 1978) and others. This position is strenuously opposed by Averil Cameron, The Sceptic and the Shroud (London: King’s College Inaugural Lecture monograph 1980). The thrust of Cameron’s case is the failure of Procopius to mention the Edessa image in the 6th c., though he devoted much space to the reputed letters exchanged between Jesus and Abgar and elsewhere accepts the possibility of miraculous interventions. In view of the copious literature on the image, Procopius might be the only 6th c. writer who was oblivious of it. Note that c. 1330 Nicephorus Callistus, Eccles. Hist. XVII.16, in J.-P. Migne, PG, Vol. 147, cols. 259 [Latin] and 260 [Greek] asserted, though without a specific citation, that: Insuper etiam Procopius memorat ea quae a veteribus quoque de effigie Christi memoriae sunt prodita, quae Abgaro Edesse principi est missa. From this we may conclude either that these lines of Procopius have been lost or, more likely, that for the earlier events in Edessa, precisely the acquisition of letters and portrait (both parts of the same story), Procopius must have used the Hist. Eccles. of early iconoclast Eusebius, which omits any reference to the portrait. Cameron further assumes that a natural and ordinary picture of Christ introduced into the literature in an extremely credulous period of history was later embellished by even more credulous minds into a miraculous image. This paper argues that the reverse sequence is more realistic. Cameron has not refuted Wilson but rather has reintroduced the case for a mere painted icon (the Mandylion) as it stood before Wilson’s important revision. Wilson’s stance is strengthened by documents included in the present paper. His own response has appeared in William Meacham, ed., Turin Shroud–Image of Christ?, Proceedings of the Hong Kong Shroud of Turin Symposium, March 3-6, 1986: "The Shroud and the Mandylion: A Reply to Professor Averil Cameron," 19-28. Although Wilson has argued that the history of the Edessa icon may contribute to the history of the Turin Shroud, this paper does not address that issue.

10 The manner in which the Mandylion was encased is verified by pictorial examples from the 10th to the 13th centuries. In a wide case the apparently disembodied face was visible behind a circular (nimbus-like) central opening, flanked by decorative panels on either side. Ian Wilson, The Mysterious Shroud, (Garden City, NY: Doubleday 1986) color plate 28; also Werner Bulst and Heinrich Pfeiffer, Das Turiner Grabtuch und das Christusbild (Frankfurt am Main: Knecht 1987) illustrations 118, 119, 121, and 122.

11 Kurt Weitzmann, "The Mandylion and Constantine Porphyrogennetos," Cahiers Archéologiques XI, 1960, 163-184, p. 183-184.

12 Evagrius (n. 8) omitted any miraculous rediscovery. A "hidden-away period" could be argued from–and explains–the significant list of writers in and about Edessa who did not mention the icon. The list includes the 4th c. Spanish pilgrim Egeria and several 4th and 5th century Edessan chroniclers and bishops. Or, as Drews (n. 1, 62-68) thinks, an icon thought at the time to have been man-made and thus not noticed by Edessa sources, achieved prominence in the siege of 544 when by its power–as the Edessenes believed–their city was saved.

13 For a learned treatment of the history of Edessa in the first six centuries, see Segal, Edessa, "The Blessed City" (n. 6).

14 Constantine Porphyrogenitus, Narratio de imagine Edessena in von Dobschütz (n. 1) 41**: . . . τὴv δὲ αἰτίαv τoῦ πῶς ἐξ ἰκμάδoς ὑγρᾶς δίχα χρωμάτωv καὶ τέχvης τῆς γραφικῆς ἐvαπεμoρφώθη τὸ τoῦ πρoσώπoυ εἶδoς ἐv τῷ ἐκ λίvoυ ὑφάσματι. English translation in Wilson (n. 9) 235‑51.

15 von Dobschütz 53**: λέγεται δέ τις καὶ ἕτερoς περὶ τoύτoυ λόγoς . . . ἐv τᾡ μέλλειv, φασί, τὸv Χριστὸv ἐπὶ τὸ ἑκoύσιov πάθoς ἐλθεῖv . . . , ὃτε καὶ τoὺς ἱδρῶτας αὐτoῦ ὡσεὶ θρόμβoυς σταλάσσειv αἳματoς ὁ τoῦ εὐαγγελίoυ λόγoς ὑπoσημαίvεται, τηvικαῦτα, φησίv, ἀπό τιvoς τῶv μαθητῶv λαβόvτα τὸ vῦv βλεπόμεvov τoῦτo τεμάχιov τoῦ ὑφάσματoς τὰς τῶv ἱδρώτωv λιβάδας ἐv αὐτῷ ἀπoμάξασθαι καὶ εὐθέως ἐvτυπωθήvαι τὴv ὁρωμέvειv ταύτηv τoῦ θεoειδoῦς ἐκ_ίvoυ εκτύπωσιv.


16 I have omitted from the documents under consideration the Menologion or "Monthly Lection" for August 16, which von Dobschütz (38**-84**, even numbered pages) gives as a text parallel and nearly identical with the Narratio (39**-85**, odd pages). Drews remarks that it was composed by imperial scholars soon after the Mandylion’s arrival in Constantinople for reading in 945. It should be noted that the Menologion contains a second use of tetradiplon: "There was given to [Jesus] a piece of cloth folded four times [rakos tetradiplon]. And after washing, he imprinted on it his undefiled and divine face." See von Dobschütz 48**. par. 5. Drews (n. 1) 40. I have also omitted many documents or passages that merely mention or repeat the Abgar legend.

17 Symeon Magister Metaphrastes, Chronographia. 52 in I. Bekker, ed., Corpus scriptorum historiae Byzantinae (CSHB) (Bonn: Ed. Weber 1838) 750: καὶ γὰρ πρὸ ὀλίγωv ἡμερῶv τoύτωv, πάvτῶv καθιστoρoύvτωv τὸv ἄχραvτov χαρακτῆρα ἐv τῷ ἁγίῳ ἐκμαγείῳ τoῦ υἱoῦ τoῦ θεoῦ, ἕλεγov oἱ υἱoὶ τoῦ βασιλέως μὴ βλέπειv τι ἢ πρόσωπov μόvov, ὁ δε γαμβρὸς Κωvσταvτίvoς. ἒλεγεv βλέπειv ὀφθαλμoὺς καὶ ὤτα. It is intriguing to note that the elements of the two versions of the Abgar legend in the Narratio combined with Symeon’s remarks quite accurately describe the facial image on the famous Turin Shroud: apparent absence of artist’s colors, faintness of image, traces of blood. Symeon thus supports the similarity in appearance between the Edessa image and the face of the figure on the Turin Shroud. Ian Wilson (n. 9) has impressively urged the thesis that the face seen on the Mandylion was in fact the facial portion of the Shroud in Torino, Italy, whose folded remainder was hidden by being enclosed in an elaborate frame. The present study does not otherwise address Wilson’s thesis.

The comments of the Continuator of Theophanes (ca. 950-970) are not included among the documents, since they only sketch what Symeon has in more detail. B. G. Niebuhr, ed., CSHB (Bonn: Ed. Weber 1838) VI. 48, p. 432 τoῦ δὲ ἁγίoυ ἐκμαγείoυ ἤτoι μαvδηλίoυ. Von Dobschütz (n. 1) 127**ff omits ἤτoι μαvδηλίoυ.

18 Translation drawn from that of A. M. Dubarle, personal correspondance. Translation of the entire document is forthcoming.

19 Werner Bulst and Heinrich Pfeiffer (n. 10) 134. The surprising recognition in the "Gregory Sermon" that the Mandylion was larger than a small face towel helps make sense of the word used by John Damascene in de fide orthodoxa IV.16 (von Dobschütz, n. 1, 189*) for the Mandylion: Seeing the inability of Abgar’s agent to capture the brilliance of his face, the Lord wiped his face and left his image on the Hanan’s himation. Thus already about 750 the Mandylion was known in some circles as a large garment-sized cloth, about two yards by three yards in size. Von Dobschütz (supra n. 1) 217* also cites Leon Diaconos (d. 992), whose version of the Abgar legend calls the Mandylion a Peplos. See also the discussion of Document VI and n. 18 below. The Gregory Sermon was noted by François Halkin, Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca (Bruxelles: Sociètè des Bollandistes 1957) Vol. 3, 111f and before that by von Dobschütz (n. 1), 212*.


20 See A. M. Dubarle, Histoire Ancienne du linceul de Turin jusqu’ au XIII siècle (Paris: O.E.I.L. 1985) 55f. See too Carlo Maria Mazzucchi "La testimonianza piú antica dell’ esistenza di una Sindone a Costantinopoli," Aevum, 57 (1983) 227‑231, which provides the original Greek of the salient portions of the letter of 958. Though the burial cloths emerge quietly and without fanfare or ceremony in the capital from 958 with no mention of an image, the large or main shroud is described with image in the texts of Mesarites and Clari (Documents XI and XII). 21 See above, n. 10. The manner of displaying the Edessa cloth, in a frame wider than it is tall may have been the result of folding the actual burial wrapping in half three times and sealing it in a frame to remove from view the blood and nakedness of the body. In this form it came to Constantinople where only gradually did the Byzantines become aware that a far greater relic was present, one which derived from the actual (Biblical) burial of Jesus, and not from the Abgar story, a mere apochryphal and anachronistic aetiological legend. Indeed, the fact that the arrival in the capital of the burial wrappings, so prominant in the relic collection, was not heralded by the usual great processions and viewings, seems to support a rather unorthodox discovery.

22 Drews (n. 1) 46, whose translations of Liturgical Tractate passages, I have used, was properly curious about the secrecy in which the icon was kept in Constantinople, where it was carried in procession only once or twice a century. Adopting Wilson’s point of view, he asked, "Is it conceivable that all of this secrecy–the guarded chamber, the shuttered case, the slip-cover embroidered with gold trellis, the cloth itself folded four [should read three] times and packed against a board–was perpetuated because no one knew there was anything of interest on the rest of the cloth?"

23 See the overview of interpretations in Einar Joranson, "The Problem of the Spurious Letter of Emperor Alexius to the Count of Flanders," AHR 55.4 (1950) 811‑32 and in A. A. Vasiliev, A History of the Byzantine Empire 324‑1453 (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press 1964) II. 386ff. Anna Comnena assures us in the Alexiad 8.3‑5 that her father did write to seek mercenaries from every quarter including Europe, and she singles out the Count of Flanders.

24 See Kurt Weitzmann,"The Origins of the Threnos," in De artibus opuscula XL, Essays in Honor of Irwin Panofsky (New York: New York Univ. Press 1961) 476‑490 and Wilson (n. 9) 133‑47. Good examples of threnos and epitaphios art are the Pray Manuscript, dated 1192-95, fig. 2 in Ilona Berkovits, Illuminated Manuscripts in Hungary, XI-XVI Centuries (NY: Praeger 1969; Z. Horn, tr.), 19; the 13th c. epitaphios of king Uros Milutin now in Belgrade, in Wilson, The Mysterious Shroud (n. 10), 116; and the Image of the Savior in Rome’s Sancta Sanctorum in Lateran, fig. 112a in Bulst and Pfeiffer (n. 10). Words of Pope Stephen in von Dobschütz (n. 1) 191*: quod si faciem meam corporaliter cenere cupis, en tibi vultus mei speciem transformatam in linteo dirigo . . .

25 For the "Oldest Latin Abgar Text," Von Dobschütz (n. 1) 130**-131** identifies three codices: 14th c. cod. Par. B. N. Lat. 6041A; 12th c. cod. Dijon 50; and 13th c. cod. Dijon 638-642. In Rome in 1993, Zaninotto presented 12th c. cod. Vat. Lat. 5696 and another that he dates to the 10th c. It is cod. Vossianus Lat. Q. 69, from the Biblioteca Rijksuniversiteit at Leida. This last ms would thus be his choice as the oldest known version of the Abgar story in Latin. Von Dobschütz (139** and 194*) ventured a date of about 800 for the Syriac original, but this ought to read "before 769," i.e., before Pope Stephen’s discourse, for the consistency of his position.

26 From the "Oldest Latin Abgar Text in von Dobschütz 133**f: si vero corporaliter faciem meam cernere desideras, heu tibi dirigo linteum, in quo non solum faciei mee figuram, sed tocius corporis mei cernere poteris statum divinitus transformatum … Nam isdem mediator dei et hominum, ut ipsi regi in omnibus et per omnia satisfaceret, supra quoddam linteum ad instar nivis candidatum toto se corpore stravit, in quo, quod est dictu et auditu mirabile, ita divinitus transformata est illius dominice faciei figura gloriosa et tocius corporis nobilissimus status, ut qui corporaliter in carne dominum venientem minime viderunt, satis eis ad videndum sufficiat transfiguratio facta in linteo.

From Ordericus Vitalis: von Dobschütz 224*: Abgarus Toparcha Edessae regnavit, cui dominus Jesus sacram epistolam destinavit et pretiosum linteum, quo faciei suae sudorum extersit et in quo eiusdem salvatoris imago mirabiliter depicta refulget; quae dominici corporis speciem et quantitatem intuentibus exhibet.

From Gervase of Tilbury, Otia imperialia 3.23 in von Dobschütz 131**ff: sed quia me corporaliter videre desideras, en tibi dirigo linteum, in quo faciei meae figura et totius corporis mei status continentur. . . . Traditur autem ex archivis autoritatis antiquae, quod dominus per linteum candidissimum toto corpore se prostravit, et ita virtute divina non tantum faciei, sed etiam totius corporis dominici speciosissima effigies linteo impressa sit. . .

In the Legenda Aurea of Jacob de Voragine (d. 1298) the author translates John of Damascus’s word himation as vestimentum lineum ipsius pictoris, i.e., Jesus impressed his image on messenger Ananias’s own clothes. See von Dobschütz 243* and 247*.

27 Gervase of Tilbury, Otia Imperialia in von Dobschütz 290**f. citing G. G. Leibnitz, ed., Scriptores Rerum Brunsvicensium et al (Hanover: N. Förster 1707) I. 967f. 3.24. De alia figura Domini. Est alia in linteo Domini figura expressa, quae, ut in gestis de vultu Lucano ligitur, hoc suum habuit initium. Cum Dominus redemtor noster exutus vestimentis suis in cruce penderet, accedens Joseph ab Arimathia ad Mariam matrem Domini & ad alias mulieres, quae secuta sunt Dominum ad passionem suam, ait: O, inquit, quanto amore huic justo tenebamini, ex ipso rerum effectu perpendi potest, quem etiam nudum in cruce pendere vidistis, non operuistis. Quo castigationis alloquio mota mater ejus & aliae, quae cum ea erant, cito euntes emerunt linteum mundissimum tam amplum & extensum, quod tota crucifixi corporis effigies in linteo est expressa, cumque deponeretur, pendentis de cruce apparuit totius corporis effigies in linteo expressa [sic].


R. S. Loomis, The Grail From Celtic Myth to Christian Symbol, (Princeton: University Pr., 1991; rp of 1963) has pointed to a link between the shroud icon in Constantinople and the Holy Grail. The First Continuation of Chrétien de Troyes’ Perceval, whose theme is Grail origins, says Nicodemus carved a head of Jesus, but "the Lord God set his hand to the shaping of it, as they say; for no man ever saw one like it nor could it be made by human hands. Most of you who have been at Lucca know it and have seen it." (vss. 17668-17672)

Que nostre Sire i mist ses mains

Au figurer, si com l’en dit;

Quar aucuns hom puis tel ne vit,

Ne ne pot estre manovrez.

Both the reference to Lucca and the "not made by human hands" motif identify

the link.

28 Translated by the present writer from Zaninotto’s discussion of his 10th c. Latin Abgar Text, presented in Rome, summer 1993; it is identical with the tractatus called by von Dobschütz 134**, "The Oldest Latin Abgar Text," identified there as cod. Par. B.N. lat 6041, 14th c.: Asserunt autem religiosi plerique viri, qui eum cernere meruerunt, quod in sancto die pasce per diversas se mutare consueverat [a]etatum species, id est ut prima hora diei infantiam, tercia vero puericiam, sexta quoque adulescenciam, nona autem [a]etatis se premonstrat habere plenitudinem, in qua ad passionem dei filius veniens pro nostrorum pondere criminum dirum crucis pertulit supplicium.

29 Riant, Exuviae (n. 2) II.211f: Mantile, quod visui Domini applicatum, imaginem vultus eius retinuit. . . . sudarium quod fuit super caput eius.

30 Now Bruno Bonnet‑Eymard, "Le ‘Soudarion’ Johannique negatif de la gloire divine," in Lamberto Coppini and Francesco Cavazzuti, eds., La Sindone, scienza e fede (Bologna: Editrice CLUEB 1983) 75‑89, argues that the word soudarion used by John 20:5‑7) and its late Latin variant used here (n. 31) may derive from soudara, a middle eastern word of the O.T. period (Ruth 3:14), which indicated not a sweat cloth or chin‑band but a large poncho of linen which was placed over the head, which covered the entire body, and came down to the feet. This striking interpretation is countered by Jean Pirot, "Soudarion mentioniére," Sindon, 32 (Dec., 1983) 74f, who also produces texts urging the meaning, "chin‑band." Bonnet-Eymard’s suggestion serves better the thesis of this paper and indeed seems to be a valuable discovery.

31 The positive considerations raised in the documents to this point, however, are clouded by another document, an oath of the year 1108, reported by Anna Comnena (Alexiad 13.12) in E. R. A. Sewter, tr., The Alexiad of Anna Comnena (New York: Penguin, 1969) 433. Those who swore this oath swore "by the Passion of Christ . . . by the Cross of Christ, the Crown of Thorns, the Nails, the Spear. . ." Absence of any reference to a burial shroud among the Passion instruments enumerated in this document of 1108 is puzzling in light of so many other clear references.


33 Nicholas Thingeyrensis in Riant, Exuviae (n. 2) 214: fasciae cum sudario et sanguine Christi.

34 William of Tyre in Riant, Exuviae 216: [Manuel, Amalrico regi, in magno palatio] sanctorum reliquias, dispensationis quoque Domini nostri Iesu Christi preciosissima argumenta [sic], exponi iubet, videlicet: Crucem; Clavis; Lanceam; Spongiam; Arundinem; Coronam Spineam; Syndonem; Sandalia. . . . I have omitted from this special set of documents an anonymous inventory dated by Riant ca. 1190. It hardly solves the historian’s perplexity, listing as separate items: "part of the linens in which the crucified body of Christ was wrapped," (and apparently in apposition) the Syndon; and "the towel sent to King Abgar at Edessa by the Lord, on which the Lord himself transferred his image." The text in question seems to be a listing of sanctuaria or brandea, i.e., contact-copies of relics from the imperial treasury in Constantinople. The text makes references to objects still in Constantinople, sanctuaria of which are held in various other places. Riant, Exuviae 216f: Hoc est sanctuarium quod in capella imperiali Constantinopolim ad presens continetur: . . . Item pars linteaminum quibus crucifixum Christi corpus meruit involvere iam dictus Arimatensis Ioseph, in supradicta imperiali capella continetur. Syndon enim, pars quoque Corone Christi, ex Karoli Calvi dono, habetur Carropoli Gallie. Item Manutergium regi Abgaro a Domino, per Thadeum apostolum, Edesse missum, in quo ab ipso Domino sua ipsius transfigurata est ymago.

35 Antonius in Riant, Exuviae 223: . . . monstrantur in aedibus aureis Caesaris: Crux veneranda, Corona [spinea], Spongia, Clavi, iterum Sanguis, Chlamys purpurea, Lancea, . . . linteum faciem Christi repraesentans . . .; quae omnia in sola ecclesia parva B. Dei Genitricis reperiuntur.

36 August Heisenberg, ed., Nikolaos Mesarites, die Palastrevolution des Johannes Komnenos (Würzburg: Koenigl. Universitätsdruckerei von H. Stürtz 1907) 30: ’Εvτάφιoι σιvδόvες Χριστoῦ: αὒται δ’ εἰσὶv ἀπο λίvoυ ὕλης εὐώvoυ κατὰ τὸ πρόχειρov, ἒτι πvεύσαι μύρα, ὑπερτερoῦσαι φθoρᾶς, ὃτι τὸv ἀπερίληπτov vεκρὸv γυμvὸv ἐσμυρvημέvov μετὰ τὸ πάθoς συvέστειλαv. . . .31: τÎv voμoδότηv αÛτÎv ñς ¦v πρoτoτύπå τετυπωμέvov è χείρoμάκτρå κα τ± ε×θρύπτå ¦γκεκoλαμμέvov κεράμå ñς ¦κ •χειρoπoιήτå τέχv® τιv γραφικ±. Shortly after this, (p. 32) Mesarites again refers to τὸ σoυδάριov σὺv ταῖς ἐvταφίoις σίvδoσιv . . . ἐv τoύτῳ περ καὶ ἀvίσταται, καὶ τὸ σoυδάριov σὺv ταῖς ἐvταφίoις σίvδόσιv εἰς ἔκδηλov.

37 Robert de Clary, La conquête de Constantinople, ch. 92, in Charles Hopf, Chroniques greco‑romaines inedites ou peu connues (Paris: 1873. Repr. Brussels: Impression Anastaltique Culture et Civilisation 1966) 71: Et entre ches autres en eut un autre des mousters que on apeloit medame Sainte Marie de Blakerne, ou li sydoines la ou nostres sires fu envelopes, i estoit, qui cascuns desvenres se drechoit tous drois, si que on i pooit bien veir le figure nostre seigneur, ne seut on onques ne Griu ne Franchois que chis sydoines devint, quant le vile fu prise. Engl. tr. in E. H. McNeal, tr., Robert de Clari, The Conquest of Constantinople (New York: Columbia Univ.Pr. 1936) 112. On the interpretation of these texts see Peter F. Dembrowski, "Sindon in the Old French Chronicle of Robert of Clari," Shroud Spectrum International (SSI), 2 (March, l982) 13‑18: le figure means "entire body," not "face‑only." See also his La Chronique de Robert de Clari: Étude de la Langue et du Style (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Pr. 1963).

38 Robert of Clari, ch. 83, in Hopf (n. 37) 65 and McNeal (n. 37) 104. The assumption made here, that the cloth which Clari described in 1203 in the Blacherne Chapel is the same one Mesarites guarded in the Pharos Church in 1201, with his hints of an image, and is thus also identical with the burial linens named in early relic lists back to 958 (Document IV) and possibly to 944, has been called into question. Werner Bulst, "Christusikone‑Edessabild/ Turiner Grabtuch," Hermeneia I.2/3 (August, 1985) 56f, notes that there are three candidates for true shroud in Constantinople at this time: Clari’s sydoines in the Blacherne Chapel, the touaille in the tabula or capsula cited by Clari and Mesarites in the Pharos Church, and the burial shroud mentioned by Mesarites, also in the Pharos Church (nn. 36-37). He opts for the cloth in the tabula, which Mesarites had called a cheiromaktron with a "prototypal" image. In this he has the support of A. M. Dubarle, "La Premiere Captivitè de Geoffroy de Charny & l’Acquisition du Linceul," Montre-nous ton Visage 8, 1992, 6-18. This position ignores the evidence of Documents XIV and XV. It also discounts Mesarites’ reference to the "uncircumscribed naked body" on the burial wrapping. Finally it would leave us with a Clari credulous enough to believe that an ordinary painted epitaphios cloth or threnos scene was the actual shroud of Jesus. This must be rejected and was, by Clari himself, so to speak, for he is very clear in calling the sydoines Jesus’s burial linen, and equally clear when referring to something painted, as in ch. 83 just after the touaille passage, when he describes an "image of St. Demetrius painted on a panel." See Hopf (n. 37) 66 and McNeal (n. 37) 105.

39 Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence: A History of he Image before the Era of Art, E. Jephcott, tr. (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Pr., 1994), 213 and n. 11.


40 On this very important point, essential in the present argument, there is ample certainty. The eunuch Constantine Philoxenites was "minister of imperial treasuries" for the unfortunate Isaac II on his brief restoration to power in 1203 (Nic. Chon. 550). Mesarites was thus out of that post and probably already looking towards the Greek Lascarid stronghold of Nicaea. Once the crusaders had taken the city the Greek clergy was utterly displaced in important posts. See Ernst Gerland, Geschichte des lateinischen Kaiserreiches von Konstantinopel (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchsgesellschaft 1966. Repr. of 1905) 10‑17 and 118‑54. Also Walter Norden, Das Papstum und Byzanz (New York: Burt Franklin 1958. Repr. of 1903). The discussion of the new Latin power structure in Constantinople in Robert Lee Wolff and Harry W. Hazard, A history of the Crusades (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press 1969) II. 194‑99 precludes any possibility of doubt. Finally, there is the evidence of Villehardouin that when the city was captured, the Bucoleon was occupied and secured by the troops of the Marquis de Montferrat while those of Henri de Flandre did the same at the palace of Blachernae. No place for Greeks in this context. M. R. B. Shaw, tr., Joinville and Villehardouin: Chronicles of the Crusades (New York: Penguin 1963) 92.

41 Pietro Savio, Ricerche storiche sulla Santa Sindone (Torino: Società Editrice Internazionale 1957) 121. This collection of texts is a work of immense scholarship and of inestimable value to the study of the burial wrap of Jesus.

42 Thus, the Greek text of Mesarites’ Palastrevolution (n. 36) 31‑32 (Col. A) should be compared to that of the Epitaphios in August Heisenberg, Neue Quellen zur Geschichte des lateinischen Kaisartums und der Kirchenunion. I. Der Epitaphios des Nikolaos Mesarites auf seinem Bruder Johannes (Munich: Verlag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 1923) 27f (Col. B). (Italics below are by the present writer.)


[He lists ten relics of the [He lists relics of the

Passion corresponding to the Passion present in Cpe.]

Ten Commandments including "Christ is known in

the ¦vτ•φιoι σιvδóvες Judaea but the Lord is

not absent from us. His

and later, τò σoυδάριov tomb is there, but the

and ¦vτάφιoις σιvδoσιv.] Ïθόvαι κα τ σoυδάρια have been brought to us;

κραvίoυ τόπoς ¦κει but the cross is here. . . .

. . . κα τί δει με τè λόγè κα τί δει με τè λόγè

μακρεγoρειv τ πoλλά; συvείρειv τ πoλλά; He who is •περίγραπτoς who appeared

among us in the form of a man,

The Lawgiver himself is περιγραπτÎς,

here . . . ñς ¦v . . . ñς ¦v

πρωτoτύπè τετυπωμέvoς πρωτoτύπè τετυπωμέvoς

τè χειρoμάκτρè κα τε τè χειρoμάκτρè κα τε

εÛθρύπτè κεράμè ñς ¦v εÛθρύπτè κεράμè ñς ¦v

¦γκεκoλαμμέvoς ¦γκεκoλαμμέvoς

•χειρoπoιέτè τέχv¬ τιv •χειρoπoιέτè τέχv¬ τιvÂ

γραφιλκ±. vαÎς oàτoς, γραφιλκ±.

τόπoς oàτoς τόπoς oàτoς, é τέκvov,

Σίvαιov άλλo, Βεθλεέμ,

Ioρδάvες, {Iερoσόλυμα, Iερoσόλυμα, Τιβερις,

Ναζαρέτ, Βεθαvία, Γαλιλαία, Ναζαρέτ, Θαβώριov Ðρos,

Τιβερις, . . . Θαβώριov Βεθαvία, κα Βεθλεέμ.

Ðρos, Πιλάτoυ πραιτόριov,

κα τόπoς Κραvίoυ


{Ηβραϊστ Γoλγόθα.

43 Gerland (n. 40) 133‑37; Norden (n. 40) 183‑87; Heisenberg, Neue Quellen (n. 42) 8‑12.

44 This Cardinal Benedict was then Bishop of Porto, on the Tiber opposite Ostia, and S. Rufina, two hamlets united by Pope Callixtus II (1119‑1124). Nicholas of Otranto (c.1155‑1235) should be distinguished from a younger contemporary poet of the same name. The Abbot of Casole is also known as Nectarius. See Augusta Acconcia Longo and André Jacob, "Poesie di Nicola d’Otranto nel Laur. Gr. 58.2," Byzantion 54 (1984) 371‑379 and Johannes W. Hoeck and Raimond J. Loenertz, Nikolaos‑Nektarios von Otranto, Abt von Casole. Beitrage zur Geschichte der ost‑westlichen Beziehungen unter Innocenz III und Friedrich II (Ettal: Buch‑Kunstverlag 1965).

45 Johannes Albertus Fabricius, Bibliotheca Graeca (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung 1967. Repr. of 1808) vol. XI. 288f. Heisenberg, Neue Quellen (n. 42) especially 10, n. 1, from the first treatise of Nicholas of Otranto on the procession of the Holy Spirit.

46 Riant, Exuviae (n. 2) II. 233f gives both the Greek and Latin versions, presumably equally by Nicholas of Otranto: quum capta esset a Francingenis regalis civitas . . . et in scevophylachium Magni Palacii tamquam latrones, ubi sancta posita erant, scilicet: preciosa ligna, spinea corona, Salvatoris sandalia, clavis et fascia (que et nos postea oculis nostris vidimus) aliaque multa invenerunt . . . (Riant’s parentheses).

Greek: Κρατηθείσης ὑπό τῶv Φραγκῶv της βασιλεύσoύσης τῶv τόλεωv, καὶ πάvτας τoὺς θησαυρoὺς, οὐ μόvov τῶv ἀvακτόρωv καὶ τῶv κoιvoλαῖτῶv, ἀλλά καὶ τoὺς τῶv oἴκῶv Κυρίoυ, . . . καὶ ἐv τῷ σκευoφυλαχείῳ τῷ τoυ Μεγάλoυ Παλατίoυ ληστρικῶς εἰσφρισσάvτωv, ἐv οἷς τὰ_ ἃγια ἀπέκειvτo, ἤγoυv: τὰ τίμια Ξύλα, ὁ ἀκάvθιvoς Στέφαvoς, τὰ τoῦ Σώτῆρoς Σαvδάλια, ὁ Ἧλoς, καὶ τα Σπάργαvα, ἅτιvα καὶ ἡμεῖς ὕστερov αὐτoψε_ ἐθεασάμεθα, ἀλλαδὲ πλεῖστα ἐυρov ἐχεῖσε.

The Moscow MS published by Bishop Arsenij, Greek only, with Russian translation (Novgorod 1896) 41, does not have the word ὕστερov "later," which is in Riant’s text, from Leo Allatius, Examen de libris ecclesiasticis Graecorum in Fabricius, Bibliotheca Graeca (Hamburg 1712) V. 151f.

For the Athens connection, see Arsenyi 18: κα — μάλιστα ¦vωτίσθημεv παρ τäv έv Θεσσαλovίκr® κα τ± βασιλίδι τäv πόλεωv o× μ¬v •λλ, κα ¦v {Αθºvας σoφωτάτvov κα Êερäv •vδρäv τäv μετ toé κ×ρ Βεvεδίκτoυ καρδιvαρίoυ.. διαλεχθέvτωv συvαγραψάμεθα . . . ™τιvα τ± παραγγελί‘ ¦κείvoυ ¦v λατιvικ± ¦ξ ©λληvίδoς μετεστρέψαμεv γλώττης.

47 Savio (n. 41) 118‑20.

48 The fact of this shipment encouraged Riant Dépouilles (n. 2) 43 and 39f, to think that Benedict might even have been a successor to Garnier de Trainel, Bishop of Troyes, and Nivelon de Cherisy, Bishop of Soissons, as officially designated overseer of the relics of the imperial treasury. The documents, however, which Riant cites for Garnier (37, n. 5) and for Nivelon (38, n. 2) are definitive by comparison. Many other individuals shipped consignments of relics to Europe, but it was the function of the official overseers to receive requests, mete out fragments of relics, and authenticate them.

49 N. 46.

50 See n. 46. The present interpretation takes his neuter plural relative pronoun que / ™τιvα to refer only to fascia /σπάργαvα.

51 (Engl. transl. by the present writer.) Pasquale Rinaldi, "Un documento probante sulla localizzazione in Atene della Santa Sindone dopo il sacheggio de Costantinopoli," in Coppini (supra n. 30) 109‑113. The letter was rediscovered in the archive of the Abbey of St. Caterina a Formiello, Naples: folio CXXVI of the Chartularium Culisanense, originating in 1290, a copy of which came to the Naples as a result of close political ties with the imperial Angelus-Comnenus family from 1481 on. The Greek original had been lost, but a Latin translation was available to Rinaldi. There the wording was linteum quo post mortem et ante Resurrectionem noster Dominus J. C. involutus est). A question remains as to the identification of Nicholas of Otranto’s plural fascia/spargana and Theodore’s singular linteum.

In a personal correspondence, Karlheinz Dietz of the Universität Würzburg has doubted the authenticity of this letter on the basis of the use of the name Angelos by the despots of Epirus, and it is true that Doukas was the more frequent name associated with this family. Dietz wonders also, and quite properly, what other evidence exists for Theodore’s presence in Rome in 1205. It may be replied that the name may have helped Theodore gain an entrée to the concerned pope in order to deliver personally his complaint about the abuses of his country by the Latin knights. Two of the Greek emperors displaced during the Fourth Crusade in 1203-1204 were Isaac II Angelos and Alexius III Angelos. Thus this name would be recognized and respected by the pope. We know from Greek writers such as Nicetas Choniates and Crusader Gunther of Alsatian Pairis, and even from the letters of Innocent III that the men of the Fourth Crusade were ruthless pillagers of gold and relics. See Robert Lee Wolfe, “The Organization of the Latin Patriarchate or Constantinople, 1204-1261.” Traditio 6 (1948), 34 and n. 2). Wolfe and Hazard (op. cit.) have indexed Theodore “Ducas” as Theodore Angelus Comnenus and the rulers of Epirus as Angelus Comnenus (865 and 816 respectively). As Mesarites (n. 40 above), so this Theodore also became an ally of Theodore Lascaris, Byzantine ruler-in-exile of Nicaea (ibid. 210).

52 Rev. Paul de Gail, S.J., Histoire religieuse du linceul du Christ de Jérusalem á Turin(Paris:ÉditionsFrance‑Empire1973)100‑11.

53 Riant, Exuviae (n. 2) II. 133‑35: partem sudarii quo involutum fuit corpus eius in sepulchro. Note the vagueness of terminology that continues to haunt this investigation: here sudarium is made synonymous with sindon.

54 Riant. Exuviae, I.20 and II.67‑227 passim.

55 Wilson (n. 9) 133‑35.

56 For the Templars, see Wilson (supra, n. 9); for Besançon, see Rinaldi (n. 51) and Daniel C. Scavone, "The Shroud of Turin from 1204 to 1355," in Alpha and Omega: Scholarship in Honor of George Szemler (Chicago: Ares Press 1993); for the Sainte Chapelle, see Rev. A. M. Dubarle, "La Premiere Captivitè de Geoffroy de Charny & l’Acquisition du Linceul," Montre-nous ton Visage 8, 1992, 6-18 and Hilda Lehnen, "A propos du Mandilion," Soudarion (Bruges, 1991).

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