The Shroud of Turin, which some believe to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, carries the blood of a torture victim, researchers in Italy have discovered.
Elvio Carlino, a researcher at the Institute of Crystallography, revealed that tiny particles on the linen fibers of the shroud "have recorded a scenario of great suffering, whose victim was wrapped up in the funeral cloth."
According to Catholic News Agency, the particles analyzed have an abnormal structure, size and distribution, which are not typical of the blood of a healthy person.
The particles showed high levels of substances called creatinine and ferritin, which are found in patients who have suffered multiple traumas "like torture", the authors wrote in the scientific article, published in PLOS One and titled: "New Biological Evidence from Atomic Resolution Studies on the Turin Shroud."
"Hence, the presence of these biological nanoparticles found during our experiments point to a violent death for the man wrapped in the Turin Shroud," University of Padua professor Giulio Fanti said.
"These findings could only be revealed by the methods recently developed in the field of electron microscopy," said Carlino, explaining that the research marked the first study of "the nanoscale properties of a pristine fiber taken from the Turin Shroud."
The Shroud is a three feet by nine feet cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have suffered the Roman torture-execution of crucifixion.
The Telegraph notes that some Christians believe the fabric - which is kept in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin - is the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth, dating back over 2,000 years.
Most of the scientific testing done on the relic has corroborated the belief that it is from the the first century and the location where Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected. Some scientific studies, however, have suggested the cloth may in fact be from the 13th or 14th century - centuries after Jesus is believed to have died.
According to CNA, the Catholic Church has not taken an official position on the relic's authenticity. However, during his June 21, 2015 visit to the cathedral, Pope Francis prayed before it.
"The Shroud attracts (us) toward the martyred face and body of Jesus," he said in an Angelus address at a Turin plaza. "At the same time, it pushes (us) toward the face of every suffering and unjustly persecuted person. It pushes us in the same direction as the gift of Jesus' love."