Just days before Christmas, a new study has emerged that suggests that one of Christianity’s most prized but mysterious relics – the Turin Shroud – is not a medieval forgery but could be the authentic burial robe of Christ.

Italian scientists have conducted a series of advanced experiments which, they claim, show that the marks on the shroud – purportedly left by the imprint of Christ’s body – could not possibly have been faked with technology that was available in the medieval period.

The research will be an early Christmas present for shroud believers, but is likely to be greeted with scepticism by those who doubt that the sepia-coloured, 14ft-long cloth dates from Christ’s crucifixion 2,000 years ago.

Sceptics have long claimed that the shroud is a medieval forgery, and radiocarbon testing conducted by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona in 1988 appeared to back up the theory, suggesting that it dated from between 1260 and 1390.

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