Sudarium of Oviedo

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The ark that contains the Sudarium of Oviedo.

The Sudarium of Oviedo, or Shroud of Oviedo, is a bloodstained piece of cloth measuring c. 84 x 53 cm (33 x 21 inches) kept in the Cámara Santa of the Cathedral of San Salvador, Oviedo, Spain.[citation needed] The Sudarium (Latin for sweat cloth) is claimed by some to be the cloth wrapped around the head of Jesus Christ after he died, as mentioned in the Gospel of John (20:6-7).[1] The small chapel housing it was built specifically for the cloth by King Alfonso II of Asturias in AD 840; the Arca Santa is an elaborate reliquary chest with a Romanesque metal frontal for the storage of the Sudarium and other relics. The Sudarium is displayed to the public three times a year: Good Friday, the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross on 14 September, and its octave on 21 September.

Background and history[edit]

The Sudarium is severely soiled and crumpled, with dark flecks that are symmetrically arranged but form no image, unlike the markings on the Shroud of Turin. No such object is mentioned in accounts of the entombment of Jesus, but it is mentioned as having been present in the empty tomb later (John 20:7). There is no reference to the Sudarium until its mention in 570 by Antoninus of Piacenza, who writes that the Sudarium was being cared for in a cave near the monastery of Saint Mark, in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

The Sudarium is presumed to have been taken from Palestine in 614, after the invasion of the Byzantine provinces by the Sassanid Persian King Khosrau II. To avoid destruction in the invasion, it was taken away first to Alexandria by the presbyter Philip, then carried through northern Africa when Khosrau II conquered Alexandria in 616 and arrived in Spain shortly thereafter. The sudarium entered Spain at Cartagena, along with people who were fleeing from the Persians. Fulgentius, bishop of Ecija, welcomed the refugees and the relics, and gave the chest containing the Sudarium to Leandro, bishop of Seville. He took it to Seville, where it spent some years.[2]


The cloth has been dated to around 700 AD by radiocarbon dating.[3] This is considerably earlier than most estimates for the Shroud of Turin, the previous three radiocarbon tests for which suggest a date between 1260 AD and 1390 AD.[4][5]

Using infrared and ultraviolet photography and electron microscopy, research by the private Centro Español de Sindonología, (Spanish Centre for Sindonology) purported to show that the Sudarium of Oviedo could have touched the same face as the Shroud of Turin, but at different stages after the death of the person.[citation needed] Researchers theorize that the Oviedo Cloth covered the face from the moment of death until replaced by the Shroud. The researchers cite purported bloodstains on both cloths, identifying them as belonging to the same type, AB,[citation needed] but no DNA testing has been carried out on blood samples from either cloth. Pollen samples from both cloths share members of certain species – one example is the thorn bush Gundelia tournefortii, which is indigenous to the Mideast.[6]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Bible gateway John:20:6
  2. ^
  3. ^ The Second International Conference on the Sudarium of Ovieto, April 2007, retrieved 16 Jun 2013.
  4. ^ LiveScience. New Shroud of Turin Evidence: A Closer Look, retrieved 16 June 2013.
  5. ^ Damon, P. E.; D. J. Donahue, B. H. Gore, A. L. Hatheway, A. J. T. Jull, T. W. Linick, P. J. Sercel, L. J. Toolin, C. R. Bronk, E. T. Hall, R. E. M. Hedges, R. Housley, I. A. Law, C. Perry, G. Bonani, S. Trumbore, W. Woelfli, J. C. Ambers, S. G. E. Bowman, M. N. Leese, M. S. Tite (February 1989). "Radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin". Nature 337 (6208): 611–615. doi:10.1038/337611a0. Retrieved 2007-11-18. 
  6. ^ Mark Guscin, The Oviedo Cloth. Cambridge: The Luttenworth Press, 1998. ISBN 07188-2985-9.

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