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A response to Ian Wilson’s comments on the Sainte-Chapelle thesis!
Mario Latendresse and Karlheinz Dietz!
In the summer 2021 BSTS issue, no. 93, we presented the hypothesis that at the end of the
festivities of the Order of the Star, on January 5 - 6th 1352, a gift made to Humbert II of Vien-
nois could be the Shroud that was described by Sancta toella (Holy Cloth), a relic from the
Sainte-Chapelle of Paris, which many researchers have identiﬁed as the Mandylion from Con-
stantinople. In Pannier , the gift from King John II to Humbert II, is described as “un grant
quarrel de nappes, couvert de drap d’argent de Damas,” that is, a large square of clothes, cov-
ered by a silver Damask cloth. It is the only gift mentioned by Pannier at the festivities and Ge-
oﬀroy de Charny is mentioned as a witness of that gift. Two important questions should imme-
diately be raised:!
1) What was that square of clothes that was gifted to Humbert II? !
2) Why is Geoﬀroy de Charny explicitly mentioned as the only witness of that gift?!
Any researcher interested in the origin of the Shroud should be struck by this unique text that
describes an object resembling a large folded cloth given as a gift, relates Geoﬀroy de Charny
to it, and given to Humbert II, who have had a long-lasting monetary debt to Geoﬀroy. There is
no other historical document ever found that has such a likeness to the Shroud and relates
Geoﬀroy de Charny to it. We hypothesize that this gift could have been the Shroud, folded, and
that for some yet-unknown reason, Geoﬀroy de Charny became the recipient of that gift. Per-
haps it was the passing of Humbert II in 1355 that made Geoﬀroy its owner. !
We also summarized the thesis of the Sainte-Chapelle, which presents a possible origin and a
direct route of the Shroud from the East to France. This thesis refers to numerous detailed
documents describing most likely the Mandylion and its reliquary. !
We also pointed out misunderstandings of that thesis, and related statements made by Ian Wil-
son, Mark Guscin and César Barta regarding that relic at the Sainte-Chapelle that appears to
be the Mandylion. One of our main points was that Wilson has mostly ignored the documents
related to that particular relic, although they present a unique and essential description of what
is most likely the Mandylion, which Wilson has hypothesized to be the Shroud. That article was
followed by a response from Wilson that contains what we think many misunderstandings,
which, in the following, we would like to clarify.!
Wilson has repeatedly written that the Sancta toella that arrived at the Sainte-Chapelle was not
the Mandylion, without stating what it could have been. However, in his comments in BSTS is-
sue no. 93, he amended that statement that the reliquary of the Mandylion did arrive at the
Sainte-Chapelle, but that the Mandylion was no longer in its reliquary. As far as we know, this is
a new statement from Wilson that relates this reliquary at the Sainte-Chapelle to the Mandylion. !
Wilson wrote, “[..] this reliquary was empty of the Image, only the metal plates that had been
the Image’s surround having been left behind.” However, he did not mention an essential ele-
Léopold Pannier, La Noble-Maison de Saint-Ouen, la villa Clippiacum et l'Ordre de l'Étoile,
Paris 1872, p. 84-106.
ment, that is, an image of Christ in the reliquary surrounded by the metal (golden) plates. This
portrait of Christ must be mentioned, because it could be the Mandylion, which we do not be-
lieve to be the case, or it was there to signify the presence of an image of Christ on the large
cloth, when it was in the reliquary. Not mentioning the presence of the image, as Wilson did,
truncate in a major way the thesis of the Sainte-Chapelle.!
Wilson did also not mention other essential documents, one of which explicitly states that there
was a cloth in the reliquary when it arrived in Paris in 1241 and deposited at the Sainte-
Chapelle, circa 1248. In fact, he wrote that “[..] Latendresse and Dietz suppose it to have ar-
rived in Paris.” Our statement regarding the presence of a cloth in the reliquary when it arrived
in Paris is not a supposition, because it is based on historical documents. For example, the
hymns of the Sainte-Chapelle, chanted on the day of the festivities of the reception of the
relics, describe one of the relics and reliquaries as “toella”, “mappa”, “mapula”, and “tabula” .
And as already mentioned, the description of the relic when it is ceded to Louis IX in 1247,
does use the term “toella.” To arrive at the conclusion that there was no cloth in the reliquary
when it arrived at the Sainte-Chapelle, as Wilson does, we have to ignore the hymns and that
the term used to describe the Sancta toella was misleading. Wilson presented no argumenta-
tion and no evidence in that direction. It is rather Wilson who supposed that there was no cloth
in the reliquary when it at the Sainte-Chapelle, contrary to several documents stating the oppo-
site. Therefore, our statement that a cloth was in the reliquary of the Mandylion when it arrived
at the Sainte-Chapelle still stands unchallenged.!
Wilson restated his long-time belief that if the Mandylion had arrived at the Sainte-Chapelle, it
would surely have been described in a more explicit way . Wilson supposes that the knowledge
of the Mandylion was widespread and well described in the West in 1241, which is not the
case. What was known is the legend of Veronica, a westernize version of the legend of Abgar.
However, Wilson added in his response that the reliquary of the Mandylion had arrived at the
Sainte-Chapelle (but with no cloth in it, according to Wilson). As far as we know, this is a new
essential statement of his regarding the reliquary of the Mandylion. Indeed, the inventories of
the reliquaries and relics are evidence that most likely the reliquary of the Mandylion arrived at
the Sainte-Chapelle. If the inventories do not mention it as the Mandylion, the simplest expla-
nation is that the oﬃcials at the Sainte-Chapelle, the king, and even the monk Gérard were
most likely unaware what the Mandylion looks like in any essential way. Seeing a portrait of
Christ with the golden plates around it should have immediately given a major clue that it was
the reliquary of the Mandylion, if they were aware of it. In other words, Wilson statement that
they surely knew about the Mandylion is contradicted by admitting that its reliquary arrived at
We have proposed the hypothesis that the transfer of the Shroud to Geoﬀroy de Charny was
accidental. Wilson raised the objection that if it were true, Geoﬀroy de Charny, being honest,
would have alerted the King once he had discovered it. However, this is assuming that Geoﬀroy
would have discovered the image before his death in September 1356. In other words, it is
Wilson used the term !Image” with a capital !I” to refer to the cloth on which an image of
Christ was impressed and came from Edessa. However, there is still a portrait of Christ, an im-
age, in the reliquary, which is described several times in the inventories of the relics by the
terms “a Veronica”, “a Holy face”, “a portrait of Christ”, and “a portrait”. But that portrait of
Christ is not mentioned by Wilson.
Karen Gould, The Sequences De sanctis reliquiis as Sainte-Chapelle Inventories, Mediaeval 3
Studies, vol. 43, p. 315 ‒ 341, 1981.
Ian Wilson, The Shroud — The 2000-year-old mystery solved, 2010, p. 194.
possible that Geoﬀroy was never completely aware of the value of the relic he received. That
possibility is coherent with all the known historical documents, which do not show the knowl-
edge of the preciousness of the Shroud by Geoﬀroy de Charny, and even of its existence as
For example, it is possible that Geoﬀroy received the Shroud to be temporarily kept until Hum-
bert II had met some unstated conditions. A similar delay, albeit in the reverse direction, hap-
pened with the abdication of Humbert II. The ancien sword of the Dauphin, with a handle sup-
posedly made from the wood of the True Cross, and the banner of Saint-Georges were used
during the ceremony, but were not, for an unknown reason, immediately transferred to the new
Dauphin, Charles, even though they were gifted to him . More than ﬁve years later, in No
vember 1355, after Humbert II passed away on May 22 , 1355, the sword and banner were
brought to Charles . !
If Geoﬀroy had been keeping the square of nappes at one of his houses in Paris, it could have
been discovered by the family after the death of Geoﬀroy. As a matter of fact, immediately after
the death of Geoﬀroy, his second wife, Jeanne de Vergy, contacted the King of France to re-
quest a conﬁrmation that one of the houses previously given to Geoﬀroy was indeed inherited
by his infant son, Geoﬀroy II.!
We stated that Humbert II was the most important guest at the festivity of the Order of the Star,
but Wilson claimed that he was not, and that we do not have a list of the guests at the festivi-
ties of the Order of the Star. If Humbert II is not the most important quest, who is, without a list
of guests? We do have a partial list of the guests, and Humbert II is certainly a very important
guest, if not the most important in that list. After all, in 1349, Humbert II had ceded to the king-
dom of France the Dauphiné, a large region of France . Humbert II was also the only guest for
which a gift from King John has been recorded during the festivities of the Order of the Star. !
Wilson has repeated the objection that the origin of the Shroud cannot have been given by the
King of France, because the de Charny family, after Geoﬀroy I’s death, would have stated that
origin to support the authenticity of the Shroud. However, that objection is not compelling in
many ways. For one, if the image was discovered by the canons and Jeanne de Vergy after the
death of Geoﬀroy, they possibly concluded that the King was also unaware of it. Declaring that
origin would have created a confusing situation and alerted the King to conﬁscate the Shroud.
Naturally, the statement made in the notice of 1525 that it came from the King was no longer a
threat for the canons of Lirey because all possible means to receive compensation for the lost
of the Shroud would never materialize from the Duke of Savoy.!
In conclusion, we do not see any objection raised by Wilson that would provide any basis to
declare the study of the Sainte-Chapelle as “ﬂogging a very dead horse”, but we rather see
that he ignored many essential documents and assumed erroneous historical contexts.!
Jean-Joseph-Antoine Pilot de Thorey, Des archives et des joyaux des Dauphins, Bulletin de la
société de Statistique de l’Isère, 2e sur., t. IV, p. 215-224.
We would like to correct the erroneous date !4th of May” reported in our original article of
Ulysse Chevalier, Le dauphin Humbert II et la ville de Romans, 1883, p. 41-42.
The annexation of the Dauphiné to France was the largest over the last three centuries of the
medieval period. See Autour du transport du Dauphiné à la Couronne de France (1349),
Anne%Lemonde-Santamaria, p. 115.