Could the Edessa cloth and the Shroud of Turin be one in the same? The first historical reference to the Shroud of Turin was its public exhibition in 1355 in Lirey, France, by French knight Geoffrey de Charny. The cloth became the property of the House of Savoy, Italy’s royal family, in 1453, and remained their legal possession until 1986 when it was bequeathed to Pope John Paul II and his successors upon the death of Umberto II of Savoy. In 1578 the relic was moved to Turin, Italy, and, apart from being moved into hiding during World War II, has remained in Turin ever since.
Prior to 1389, however, the Shroud’s history is somewhat nebulous. There are many references to ”a shroud” being kept in different places by different people but historical records dating back to at least the 6th century refer to a cloth (not specifically a burial cloth) with an imprint of Jesus. This particular cloth had been taken to Edessa [now in Eastern Turkey] back in the first century AD and, according to legend, was instrumental in converting the king of that city, Abgar, to Christianity, shortly after the crucifixion of Christ.
That specific cloth dropped out of history, but apparently reappeared in the 6th century when it was discovered hidden within the walls of the Edessa city gates. It was immediately hailed as being a miraculously imprinted likeness of Jesus and became the basis for Jesus’ image by many artists at the time.
In 944, the Edessa Cloth was removed from the city by the armies of Emperor Romanus I of Constantinople. It remained in Constantinople until 1204, when Crusaders sacked the city. There is no record of the Edessa Cloth after that point until the cloth that would become known as the Shroud of Turin turned up in the possession of Geoffrey de Charny in the 1350s. Charny was a direct descendent of one of the knights of that crusade.
Although the evidence is purely circumstantial, many believe the Edessa Cloth and the Shroud of Turin are one and the same.