Doing research for a different project, I came across a 12-year-old French girl, Jeanne de Vergy, who had just been married in September 1351 to a 45-year-old knight. He was Lord Geoffrey de Charney, favorite counselor to King John II. So great was de Charney’s influence that he was known in his lifetime as “the Uncrowned King of France.” Jeanne led me to the greatest mysteries of her time – and ours – the Shroud of Turin, and the ultra-secret societies of the Knights Templar.
I have always been fascinated by both the Shroud and the Templars, but never would have written a novel about them without Jeanne. Her true story is mesmerizing. In fact, the Shroud can be traced back to the Easter Masses of 1357, when Jeanne displayed the Shroud (with the permission of a pope) in the tiny de Charney family church in Lirey, France. From those Masses until this day, there is an unbroken chain-of-ownership, but how or where Jeanne got the Shroud, or what it actually is, this is one of our great mysteries.
Every new technology is endorsed by all sides (there are currently three) as proof that they are right. A recent book, The Mystery of the Shroud (2013), written by a Giulio Fanti, a professor of mechanical and thermal measurement at Padua University, Italy, and journalist Saverio Gaeta, claims “proof” that the Shroud is that of Jesus. In 2015, Fanti and Pierandrea Malfi, both mechanical engineers, published The Shroud of Turin: First Century after Christ, claiming that the thread in the Shroud of Turin cloth is 2000 years old. Interest in the Shroud continues to grow. There is Shroud website – Late Breaking Website News! – that had over a million visitors in 2015.