Science, still unable to disprove the Shroud.
Rome - The Vatican's official newspaper has given strong endorsement to research by Italian scientists that suggests the Shroud of Turin cannot be a medieval fake and may be the authentic burial cloth of Christ.
"For science, the shroud continues to be an 'impossible object' - impossible to falsify," L'Osservatore Romano said in a lengthy article Thursday.
The researchers presented their results with "extreme caution" and had stopped short of putting forward theories that "strayed from science."
But the implication was that the enigmatic marks on the cloth were created at the moment of Christ's Resurrection by some sort of miracle.
After five years of laser experiments, experts from the National Agency for New Technologies and Energy, concluded the imprint of a bearded man's face and crucified body could not be reproduced by modern scientific techniques.
Skeptics have long claimed the shroud is a medieval forgery. Radiocarbon testing conducted by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona in 1988 appeared to back up that theory, suggesting it dated from between 1260 and 1390.
But those tests were in turn disputed on the basis they were skewed by contamination by fibres from cloth used to repair the relic when it was damaged by fire in the Middle Ages.
"The double image [front and back] of a scourged and crucified man, barely visible on the linen cloth of the Shroud of Turin, has many physical and chemical characteristics that are so particular that the staining ... is impossible to obtain in a laboratory," the Italian experts concluded.
They said the exact shade, texture and depth of the imprints on the cloth could only be produced with the aid of ultraviolet lasers - technology that was clearly not available in medieval times.
The scientists used extremely brief pulses of ultraviolet light to replicate the kind of marks found on the burial cloth. They concluded the iconic image must therefore have been created by "some form of electromagnetic energy (such as a flash of light at short wavelength)."