When told that Jesus had appeared to his other disciples, Thomas was doubtful and wanted physical proof: “Until I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Some days later, Jesus appeared to Thomas and said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
”While the Vatican has never taken an official position on how the image on the Holy Shroud was made, it encourages its flock to revere it as a symbol of the redemptive power of Christ’s suffering and resurrection. In 1998, Pope John Paul II was so deeply moved by the image of the Holy Shroud that he stated, “The Shroud is an image of God’s love as well as of human sin ...
The imprint left by the tortured body of the Crucified One, which attests to the tremendous human capacity for causing pain and death to one’s fellow man, stands as an icon of the suffering of the innocent in every age.”
In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI described the Holy Shroud as an “extraordinary Icon written in blood, the blood of a man who was scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified and whose right side was pierced,” in which “we see, as in a mirror, our suffering in the suffering of Christ.” And in 2013, as part of Easter celebrations, Pope Francis stated that, “the Man of the Shroud invites us to contemplate Jesus of Nazareth,” that is, to reflect on the validity of what Jesus taught us.
Christians of several denominations, including Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Orthodox, Pentecostals, and Presbyterians, treasure the Holy Shroud as the burial cloth of Jesus. For the faithful the world over the Holy Shroud of Turin is more than a mysterious image, it is a miracle. And, unlike the doubtful Thomas, a miracle does not require proof, but a leap of faith.
In 1988, the Vatican approved carbon-14 dating on samples taken from the Holy Shroud, which were sent to three laboratories: the University of Oxford’s Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. All three laboratories concluded that the samples dated between the years 1260 and 1390, more than 1000 years after the death of the historical Jesus.
This research was called into question because criticisms were raised regarding the samples taken for testing, as there is an obvious risk of contamination of fabric over time, as well as the possibility that the samples taken may represent medieval repair fragments.
The Bible says the Apostoles Peter, John and James had visions of the “Transfiguration of Christ” on the mountain Tabor fifteen centuries before Renaissance artists such as Bellini and Raffaello. One of the earliest icons still in existence is that of a 4th century fresco in the Catacomb of Commodilla in Rome, depicting Christ as the Lamb of God blessing baskets of loaves. And of course one of the most famous depictions of Jesus Christ is Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”. In all depictions of Jesus—whether in painting, sculpture, embroidery, photography and on film—the resemblance to the face on the Holy Shroud is remarkable.
Originating from the most venerated and controversial religious icon in the world, between 2013 and 2014, Piraccini had realised a series a paintings in which truth and artifice, illumination and mystery, suffering and solace come together to reveal a path from hypothesis to revelation, be it historical, artistic or spiritual. Not surprisingly, in January 2015, Pope Francis bestowed his blessing on Piraccini’s works, assuring the artist an honoured place in a long tradition of sacred art.
“From the Imprint of Jesus” is of an approximate size as the Shroud of Turin, 4.41 x 1.13 metres. It was born from the transposition of pastel on tracing paper, which was reversed and recorded onto a herringbone linen canvas. The artist painted this canvas in mirror-like fashion to the Holy Shroud in order to have the body of Christ as it was in reality. Two primary colours were used—red to highlight the wounds from the crown of thorns, the nails in the hands and feet, and the lance to the side of Christ’s body, and blue to represent the scourges of his martyrdom. She calls these colours “imperceptible” because they cannot be seen in natural light. Only with a change in light do the pigments appear and suddenly the full size image of the Shroud takes shape.
The tonality of “My Jesus” is very particular and was achieved by blending the “imperceptible” pigments with traditional oil paints to achieve a work without clear contours, as with the Holy Shroud. The idea was to create magnetic colours, colours that would attract the viewer, but with fine brushstrokes that intensify as the viewer gets closer and closer to the canvas. “My Jesus” is the same size and in the same direction as the actual Shroud of Turin, but not painted in mirror-like fashion as was the “From the Imprint of Jesus”, and is thus a representation of the Holy Shroud itself
“The Trinity” is comprised of three superimposed linen sheets each bearing comparative images of the face of Christ.
It was created by the same method of transposing the shapes and details of the face on the Holy Shroud while also incorporating details of the face from “My Jesus” and “From the Imprint of Jesus”.
By superimposing one on top of the other, the artist has created an analogy of the Holy Shroud in a contemporary key, and especially because it represents the revelation of Christ as the one eternal divinity in the three forms of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Digital version of “The Trinity” - works signed by the Artist, numbered 1/100, measuring 0.50 x 0.50 cm, is an aggregate of the face from the Shroud of Turin (69%), the face from the painting From the imprint of Jesus (100%) and the face from the painting “My Jesus” (54%).
These works are numbered (1/100), signed by the artist, and available in Australia for purchase in its original size exclusively at The Holy Shroud Exhibition in Melbourne.
These images are comparisons of the detailsof the face of the Holy Shroudof Turin in natural light,with the faces of the two paintings “My Jesus” and “From the Imprint ofJesus” in negative black and white, and in colours as revealed by ultraviolet light.
The theme of “The Resurrection” is tackled freely and with spiritual depth and anticipates by several years the arrival of the life-size photographic scan of Holy Shroud of Turin at the artist’s studio in Rome.
In this painting can be discerned the emergence of colours and shapes that the artist identified with the Holy Shroud, things both visible and invisible, and which eventually formed the fundamental pictorial evocations for the painting “From the Imprint of Jesus”.
The “Imperceptible” pigments, having properties of appearing and disappearing, gave birth to many other works including “The Imperceptible Baptism of Jesus”.
This painting addresses the theme of the iconography of Christ in an unconventional way, bringing together bodies, lines and tangles into the compositional setting. The perspective in this painting is reversed and indeed the figures are large or small according to a principle of hierarchical priority.
The artist believes that humanity today is disoriented: we are struggling to perform our true calling in a hyper-technological world and losing our interior and spiritual dimension.
The theme of this painting is about illuminating the invisible within us through the light of life, and revealing the eternal mystery that animates life as the proper function of art. Unfettered by technology, art can nourish the spirit to have humanity re-dedicate itself to the task of perpetual renewal, bringing our inner and outer selves into balance.
A notable example of mirroring is the 6th century painting of the Virgin Mary in Santa Francesca Romana at the Coliseum in Rome. It was created by contact with the painting of the Virgin May of Montevergine from Constantinople, resulting in one being specular to the other. This method was used to retain the sacredness and apotropic power of the original relic.
Similarly, by using modern art pastels on transparent tracing paper, the artist reproduced exactly what is on the Holy Shroud by contact. This formed the basis of the three central artworks of this exhibition, “From the Imprint of Jesus”, “My Jesus” and “The Trinity”. The life-size photo of the Holy Shroud of Turin with paintings by the Artist.
For all three artworks the artist used what she calls “Imperceptible” pigments to create colours that are unique and cannot be duplicated, in particular hues of red, blue, bronze as well as a range of crepuscular colours. Unlike traditional oil paints for example, mixing the red and blue pigments will not produce purple, but a completely different colour to what is expected.
Discovered in the 1980s thanks to the artist’s physicist sister, Nadia Piraccini, these pigments are called “Imperceptible” because they can be made visible or invisible with a change of light. For Piraccini these pigments gave rise to a new way of painting that can illuminate endless shades and nuances in areas of human experience that are on the whole exceedingly subtle and complex.
Another important feature is the type of canvas on which “From the Imprint of Jesus”, “My Jesus” and “The Trinity” are painted. The canvasses for the three works come from Taranto in Italy and were made of pure herringbone linen cloth. These were hand- woven on a loom with a “Z” twist very similar to that of the Holy Shroud, and with a weaving technique that was used in ancient times and in places where Jesus had lived.
Veronica held her first solo exhibition in 1984 at Civitella S. Paolo in Rome at the Castle of Benedictine Monks. She has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions both nationally and internationally, including “Lo Sguardo da Lontano” exhibition, Galleria di Sarro, Rome 1993; “Prima del Poi” exhibition, Galleria Zonca, Milan 1997; Contemporary Art XXXI, Vasto 1998; VIInternational Art Triennial, Majdanek, Lubjana 2000;“Art and Research” exhibition, Fumagali Gallery,Bergamo 2003; Central State Archive “Artists in Archive” exhibition, Rome 2004; “The Earth Needs Men” exhibition, Royal Palace of Caserta 2008; “Spring Argam” exhibition, Rome 2009; Academy of Arts and New Technologies, Rome 2010; “Che cento fiori sboccino” exhibition, La Nuova Pesa Gallery, Rome 2010; “Universes Without Borders” exhibition, Porta Ostiense Museum 2010; “Grovigli” exhibition Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, 2011; “Piligrim Painting” exhibition U. Mastroianni Museum of Marino 2015; and the “Christ and the Cross” The Holy Pope Francis with Veronica Piraccini at the Vatican, 2015. exhibition, Studio S Gallery, Carmine Siniscalco, Rome 2017. Most recently, Veronica exhibited her works based on the Holy Shroud at the St. Louis Museum, USA; at the Saint Paul Religious Institute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; at the Archdiocese of Bukavo, Congo; at the Archdiocese Kigawi, Ruanda; and at the museum of Dafen Village, Shenzhen, in the Guangdong Province of China.