top of page

Shroud of Turin: the image of the extreme pain suffered for our redemption, Part 4ª

Last part of this great article on the suffering of the shroud man from the perspective of forensic medicine. We thank Prof. Sánchez Hermosilla for sending us the article for publication and diffusion.

Said information is as follows:

-The Man of the Shroud died with all certainty from the physical torture to which he was subjected.

- He suffered severe chest trauma that caused him to suffer a pleural effusion.

-He died of asphyxia aggravated by acute pulmonary edema, also a consequence of the asphyxia itself, a vicious circle occurring: asphyxia causes acute pulmonary edema, acute pulmonary edema worsens asphyxia. And so on, with an ending that has only one possible scenario: death.

-In the hypothetical case that the Man of the Shroud was not dead when he received the wound to the chest, as a consequence of this new injury, passing through the heart and right lung, death would occur within seconds, with no possibility of avoiding it. However, there would be viable blood, but instead in this injury all the blood is cadaverous, not viable. For this reason, it can be said that the Man of the Shroud was already dead when he received this lesion.

-As a summary, it can be said that the Man of the Shroud had the following organic problems:

-Cardiac arrhythmias. Caused by hydroelectrolyte imbalance, i.e. dehydration, blood loss, profuse sweating, increased potassium and decreased calcium in the bloodstream.

-Cardiac failure. Caused by multiple causes, including asphyxia, pericardial effusion, forced posture during crucifixion, and blood loss.

-Respiratory failure. Caused by injury to the respiratory muscles during scourging, associated with bruised lungs, pleural effusion and acute pulmonary edema, procured by crucifixion.

-Kidney failure. Caused by direct contused injuries to the kidneys during flagellation, dehydration and the great loss suffered of blood and myoglobin, which obstructed the renal filtration function.

-Dehydration. Caused by profuse sweating and the great loss of blood suffered. This originated a strong feeling of thirst that did not contribute to the condemned man's well-being.

-Respiratory acidosis. Asphyxiation decreases circulating oxygen in the blood and increases carbon dioxide (CO2), which combines with water in the blood to produce carbonic acid, acidifying the pH of the blood. Any change in blood pH, beyond narrow physiological margins, produces serious health problems, whether the pH increases causing alkalosis or decreases causing acidosis. These changes in blood pH also alter the circulation of calcium, the physiological levels of which are very stringent: any change causes muscle cramps, difficulty in mobilizing muscles properly (so much so that breathing movements cannot properly occur), cardiac problems and even fainting, the consequences of which have been discussed above.

-Metabolic alkalosis. To compensate for this respiratory acidosis, the body attempts to alkalize the blood by producing sodium bicarbonate.

-Hypovolemic shock (lack of body fluid). Caused by dehydration and profuse bleeding.

-Painful shock. Consequence of intense pain caused by the multiple traumatic injuries suffered, as well as muscle cramps secondary to asphyxiation, forced posture, and excess calcium and potassium in the blood.

-Anemic syndrome. Consequence of blood loss due to hemorrhage.

-Ion imbalance in blood circulation. Especially increased potassium levels and decreased calcium levels (hyperkalemia and hypocalcemia).

-Coagulation difficulties (hypocoagulation), as bleeding increases. The large number of bleeding injuries probably depleted the available amount of "clotting factors" needed to prevent such losses and initiate the regeneration process of damaged body tissues. After this hypocoagulation occurred, bleeding was increased. To this hypocoagulation, decreased blood calcium may also have contributed, since calcium is a key factor for coagulation to occur in an adequate form.

-Increased body temperature (hyperthermia), a result of the effort exerted to maintain respiration during crucifixion, and a possible defense mechanism against aggression and probable ongoing infections that had already begun.

To all this must be added what cannot be called anything other than a "hormonal storm": as a consequence of the pain and injuries, the so-called stress hormones (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol) would be increased.

These hormones were partly responsible for the fact that the Man of the Shroud lived for a relatively long time, longer than expected, since a normal person would probably have died sooner, in a shorter period of time.

But this relatively long survival was at the cost of more extensive suffering.


The real meaning and significance of the Shroud and its image, beyond the question of authenticity that has lately almost become a form of obsession, can only be perceived through a proper relationship between faith and knowledge.

Although it is not possible to define in words the suffering endured by the Man of the Shroud, awareness of that suffering and of the torment of the Cross that the Shroud represents helps us better understand the great mystery of Jesus Christ's love, further inviting us to reflect on the meaning of our lives. For this reason, too, the Shroud of Turin, using the words of St. John Paul II, represents a great "provocation for human intelligence," prompting us to confront the great mystery of Christ's love.

And the Creator of the Universe, loving us immeasurably, wanted to be part of the human race by submitting himself to all the extreme and most violent tortures and immense pains until death, even though he was already aware of such terrible sufferings from the beginning.

(If you would like the bibliography of the article, you can request it from our e-mail address)

148 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page