This is the face of Jesus Christ as a child – according to Italian police. Detectives used computer forensic techniques that have helped to catch mafia bosses to generate the image. First, they created a photo-fit picture from the facial image in the Turin Shroud, which many believe to be that of Jesus.
They then used a computer program to reverse the ageing process by reducing the jaw size, slimming the face and softening the eyes to arrive at the younger Christ. Italian police use the same digital techniques, but in reverse, to create updated photo-fit images of fugitive mafia bosses whose faces have not been seen for years. This was successfully achieved in the case of Bernardo Provenzano who was captured in 2006 after his image was re-created on a picture from 1959, it was reported by The Independent.
The image of the young Jesus was created to coincide with the latest exhibition of the Turin Shroud at Turin Cathedral which is expected to attract millions of visitors, including Pope Francis. Debate rages over the authenticity of the Shroud, which is imprinted with the image of a man who appears to have been crucified. In 1998, the shroud was carbon dated to the end of the 13th century, lending support to those who say it is a medieval forgery. But it has retained its mystical air for many thanks partly to the fact that researchers have been unable to establish exactly how the image was created.
The Church does not officially maintain that Christ’s body was wrapped in the shroud or that any miracles were involved in the creation of the image now on display. ‘It is not a profession of faith because it is not an object of faith, nor of devotion, but it can help faith,’ Turin Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia said last month. Local authorities are counting on the exhibition of the shroud in the city’s cathedral to give a significant boost to the local economy at a time of stagnation across Italy. When the shroud was last presented to the public, in 2010, more than two million people filed past it.
Pope Francis decreed the latest exhibition to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of St John Bosco, a 19th century monk who devoted his life to the education of poor children in newly-industrialised Turin. Francis, who has family roots in the region, is due to visit the city and the exhibition on June 20-21.
The shroud will be on display for 12 hours a day between 7.30am and 7.30pm with an entry free. Viewers will be afforded only a few minutes each in front of the original although they will be able to linger longer at a specially-made model and a related exhibition.