Despite numerous investigations and tests, the status of the Shroud of Turin remains murky, and the nature of the image and how it was fixed on the cloth remain puzzling.
Its most distinctive characteristic is the faint, brownish image of a front and back view of a naked man with his hands folded across his groin.
The two views are aligned along the midplane of the body and point in opposite directions.
The front and back views of the head nearly meet at the middle of the cloth.
), a length of linen cloth bearing the image of a man, is believed by some Christians to be the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth, although three radiocarbon dating tests in 1988 dated a sample of the cloth to the Middle Ages.
The shroud is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, northern Italy.
The Catholic Church has neither formally endorsed nor rejected the shroud, but in 1958 Pope Pius XII approved of the image in association with the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.
The origins of the shroud and its images are the subject of intense debate among theologians, historians and researchers.
Diverse arguments have been made in scientific and popular publications claiming to "prove" that the cloth is the authentic burial shroud of Jesus, based on disciplines ranging from chemistry to biology and medical forensics to optical image analysis.
In 1988, a radiocarbon dating test dated a corner piece of the shroud from the Middle Ages, between the years 12, which is consistent with the shroud's first known exhibition in France in 1357.