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From the Mandylion of Edessa to the Shroud of Turin

The Metamorphosis and Manipulation of a Legend


Andrea Nicolotti

According to legend, the Mandylion was an image of Christ’s face imprinted on a towel, kept in Edessa. This acheiopoieton image (“not made by human hands”) disappeared in the eighteenth century. The first records of another acheiropoieton relic appeared in mid-fourteenth century France: a long linen bearing the image of Jesus’ corpse, known nowadays as the Holy Shroud of Turin. Some believe the Mandylion and the Shroud to be the same object, first kept in Edessa, later translated to Constantinople, France and Italy. Andrea Nicolotti traces back the legend of the Edessean image in history and art, focusing especially on elements that could prove its identity with the Shroud, concluding that the Mandylion and the Shroud are two distinct objects.