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Middle Ages without borders: a conversation on medievalism

Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri
Pierre Savy
Lila Yawn

b) Touring the Middle Ages

3) The modern quest for the Holy Grail

Edmund J. Mazza

Texte intégral

1It can be argued that scientists and journalists are to the modern world what grail-knights, mendicants, and pilgrims were to the medieval: standard-bearers and dogged seekers of meaning and truth. But during the last decades of the twentieth century (and continuing even today), two modern investigative teams headed by the unlikeliest of protagonists ventured on “pilgrimage” around the world in search, of all things, of the blood of Christ. This October marks the fortieth anniversary of the STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project) scientific investigation of the purported blood-stained burial cloth of Christ. In 1978, Jewish technical photographer Barrie Schwortz, having completed a job at Los Alamos National Laboratories, joined a team of NASA (and other) scientists bound for Turin to investigate the strange image-dimensional properties exhibited by the shroud. After photographing their week-long experimentation, the self-professed skeptic was never the same. In 1999, Michael Willesee the most prominent journalist in modern Australian television news, traveled to South America where he skeptically investigated alleged blood miracles, including a bleeding communion host in Buenos Aires. He and his associates secured samples for scientists whose surprising conclusions were entrusted to Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio (Pope Francis). Willesee is now a believer. In what ways do these modern “questors” mirror their medieval forbears? What is the verdict of science and journalism upon relics from the realm of faith and mystery? What contribution do their journeys make to contemporary conversations about the human condition and our methodologies of fact-finding/faith-finding?


Azusa Pacific University

© Publications de l’École française de Rome, 2021

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