The Chisper Effect 9 : The Mandylion

Continuing the weekly serialization of


Damian Beeson Bullen’s


In which a number of the world’s greatest mysteries are finally solved


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Chapter IX

I would like to declare that the ultimate object of veneration upon which the legends of the Holy Grail are based is not, in fact, the cup used at the Last Supper, but rather a ‘Turin Shroud’ like piece of material which sported the so-called image of Jesus Christ. Our first port of call is an obscure 6th century manuscript from Georgia, which reads; ‘but I climbed Holy Golgotha, where the Lord’s cross stood, and collected in the headband and a large sheet the precious blood that had flowed from his holy side.’ Here we have the blood of Christ being stored for posterity in a piece of linen, & in our modern days scholarship has begun to promulgate the idea that into the fabric of the burial shroud of Jesus was imprinted a bloody image of his crucified corpse. Certain members of this niche academy have then connected the bloody shroud to an ancient image of Jesus known as the Mandylion; while a handful more have pointed out that all of this could be the basis into which is rooted the legend of the Holy Grail. Richard Hayman, for example, in his Holy Grail and Holy Thorn: Glastonbury in the English Imagination (2003) writes of the 12th century creator of one of the earliest grail stories we possess, Robert de Boron, that he had perhaps, ‘heard of the Holy Mandylion & substituted it for a cup in the Grail story.’  Seven years prior to this, in his 1996 paper, Joseph of Arimathea, the Holy Grail and the Turin Shroud, Dan Scavone postulates how the Mandylion was also both the Turin Shroud AND the Holy Grail. After investigating the matter myself, I have ascertained that these scholars were beating about the right bush, but had never dove headlong into the thorns, where the Grail has been waiting all along. The truth to the matter is tangled up in layers of both proper history & later medieval romancing, thus the best thing to do is to present the information in chronological order, beginning quite surprisingly with the death of the apostle Thomas, who for some reason was known as the ‘Didymus,’ or twin, of Jesus.

downloadOur quest begins in India & its most southerly state, sun-kissed Tamil Nadu. From mornings of gorgeousness to those soul-searing sunsets, Tamil Nadu is a wonderful place in which to freely wander; body, mind and soul. Alright, there are still beggars all over the shop and women cleaning the streets, but everybody else seems to be getting on harmoniously in some kind of casteless happiness. During my investigations into the Jesus Jigsaw, I had visited Tamil Nadu on the trail of possible southern avatars of Ashvaghosha. From my studies in the north I swooped down to Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, arriving on a train known as the Thirukural Express. This rather elongated name is actually the most sacred text of the Tamils – the Kural of Thiruvalluvar. Hardly anything is known about its author, but the experience of reading or hearing those brief nuggets of wisdom which form the Kural really do invoke a Christian mantra. One of the first western scholars to describe the poetical wisdom contained in the Kural was RT Temple, who declared it to be, ‘one of the grandest productions of man’s brain, much of which bears so strange a resemblance in thought to the Sermon on the Mount. It has accordingly been argued ere this, with much show of probability that the teachings of the gospel influenced the nameless weaver of Mayilapur.

Thiruvalluvar’s legendary home in the Chennai suburb of Mylapore was renamed St Thome by the Portuguese, with Father Henry Hosten recording, ‘the first Portuguese historians say … that St. Thomas built his ‘house,’ meaning his church, on the site where a Jogi had his temple.’  A connection between Thomas & Thiruvalluvar cannot be ruled at out, but we shall leave identifying the link for another day. For now, let us focus on the long standing tradition that states Saint Thomas was martyred at Mylapore in 68 AD. The 7th century patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophronius, describes how Thomas preached; ‘the gospel of the Lord to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Carmanians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and the Magi. He fell asleep in the city of Calamina of India.’ Calamina philochisps into Cholamandalam, the ‘Realm of the Cholas,’ an Indian dynasty who ruled over the coastal regions of Tamil Nadu. That Thomas died at Chennai, the chief city of Cholamandalam, is commemorated locally to this day, with the tradition that Thomas was martyred in the suburb of Mylapore . Having aroused the hostility of the locals, the saint is said to have been chased to the site of the modern-day St Thomas’ Mount, & was there brutally slain. A text, thought to be by Hippolytus, describes the killing, with Thomas being, ‘thrust through in the four members of his body with a pine speare at Calemene, the city of India, & was buried there.’


The apocryphal Acts of Thomas describe that after his murder at Mylapore, the body of Thomas was wrapped in, ‘beautiful robes and much and fair linen’ before being ‘buried in a royal tomb.’ Two centuries after the burial, the remains of Thomas were removed from India, to be relocated in the Christian west at the ancient Syrian city of Edessa. An anonymous text known as ‘The Passio’ describes the circumstances behind the removal of the bones;

The Syrians begged of the Roman emperor Alexander, then on his victorious return from the Persian war against Ardashir, and petitioned that instructions should be sent to the princes of India to hand over the remains of the deceased Apostle to the citizens. So it was done; and the body of the Apostle was transferred from India to the city of Edessa

We have here reached a significant moment of chispological diversion, for the remains of Thomas were stored in a royal citadel known as the ‘Britio Edessenorum.’ This gives us our first credible link to the Grail legend, for a thousand years later the transchispering recollections of the Thomas relics being stored in the Britio Edessenorum transmogrified into a legend that Joseph of Arimathea had taken the holy cup of Christ to Britain. Support for this particular chisper comes from a mention by the Venerable Bede of the so-called King Lucius of Britain, who never actually existed, but was in fact  Agbar Lucius IX of Edessa, who dwelt in the Britio Edessenorum. This has not stopped thousands of people searching for the Grail through Joseph of Arimethea’s supposed connection to Glastonbury; but as I have stated earlier in this book, when a factochisp is based on a philochisp it becomes extremely difficult to ascertain the truth, & with such a huge passage of time as that which has enveloped the grail legend, we should not wonder why it has never been found.


In the centuries following the removal of  the Thomas relics to Edessa, a piece of material called the Mandylion showed up in the city. Also known as the Icon of Edessa, it was said to bear the face of Jesus, whose twin, we must remember, was Thomas. The key premise here is that alongside the bones brought from India in the casket, there was also brought the burial shroud of St Thomas, upon which an imprint of his body had been left behind by the blood pouring out of his four lethal wounds. Seeping into the fabric of the cloth, a shadowy vision of Thomas would remain which would one day become mistaken for that of Jesus himself. That the Icon arrived in Edessa alongside the remains of Thomas can be observed through just a single philochisp. Firstly, let us analyze a 4th century hymn by Saint Ephraem of Syri, a curious piece pitched from the perspective of the Devil;

The merchant brought the bones: nay, rather! They brought him. Lo, the mutual gain! ‘But the casket of Thomas is slaying me, for a hidden power there residing, tortures me.

The merchant who brought the remains of Thomas to Edessa is given a name in an early Syrian ecclesiastical calendar, when for the third of July it records; ‘St. Thomas who was pierced with a lance in ‘India’. His body is at Edessa having been brought there by the merchant Khabin. The 4th century church historian Jerome gives this merchant a slightly different name in an alternative setting; ‘Judas Thomas the Apostle, when Our Lord sold him to the merchant Hâbbân that he might go down and convert India.’ Habban now transchispers easily into a certain Hannan, who was said to have painted a picture of Jesus for the King of Edessa. The tale appears in a text known as the Doctrine of Addai;

When Hannan, the keeper of the archives, saw that Jesus spoke thus to him, by virtue of being the king’s painter, he took and painted a likeness of Jesus with choice paints, and brought with him to Abgar the king, his master. And when Abgar the king saw the likeness, he received it with great joy, and placed it with great honor in one of his palatial houses.

To summarize, the remembrance of Khabin/Habban bringing the bloody, image-imprinted shroud of Saint Thomas has here morphed into the story of a man called Hannan painting a picture of Jesus, This is a classical philochisp-fueled factochisp operating in the most outrageous of truth-stretching fashions, & when information is as garbled & regurgitated as in this case, only confused accounts remain. In the middle of this messy swamp, however, lies the true source of the Icon of Edessa, being the blood-stained burial linen of Jesus’ so-called twin. According to an anonymous 7th century Greek text, the Acts of Thaddaeus, we are told how the image of Jesus was imprinted on a ‘tetradiplon,’ which translates as ‘doubled in four,’ suggesting the shroud of Thomas was folded up, with the head image being displayed in some sort of protective case.

The question we must now ask ourselves is however did King Arthur become involved in a quest for the Mandylion? The answer lies in connecting King Pelles, the British possessor of the Grail, with Edessa. As I showed in the last chapter, Pelles is a philochisp of Liberalis, the father of the Grail-seeking Peredur, also known as a Gothic warrior called Pharas the Herulian. This leads us to a rhotacismic philochisp of Liberalis into a 6th century Byzantine Goth called Liberarius. In 525, this one-time chief Magister of Thrace found himself in charge of Edessa, with the Chronicle of Pseudo-Zachariah Rheto describing him as; ‘Liberarius the Goth, a harsh governor, who was nicknamed ‘The Bull-Eater.


The epithet, I believe, comes from Liberarius once possessing the wonderful dining-set that was dug out of the earth in today’s Western Romania, near Nagyszentmiklós, in 1799. The hoard consists 23 pieces of golden plates, cups & bowls amounting to about ten kilos of pure gold, with some of the plates baring images of bull. One plate has a peculiar inscription which also mentions bulls. The inscription’s language is unknown, but an orthographical date can be ascertained through the shape of the omega – whose middle vertical line appears higher than its round sides, a typical feature of 6th century Greek inscriptions. A transliteration of the inscription reads;

 Boila zoapan finished this bowl, which Boutaoul zoapan made suitable for hanging up

We can here make two connections to the Arthurian theory I am slowly building. First, the treasures were found in the very regions in which Justinian settled 4,500 Heruli, near the fortress of Singidunum (modern Belgrade). Secondly, Boutaoul could actually be Sir Bedivere, one of Arthur’s oldest knights, for his name derives from Beado-Wulf. Support of the babel-chain comes in this lovely & obscure corner of Arthuriana given by Big Geoff;

When he had seated all according to rank, Kai arose, with a thousand men to serve from the kitchen, with a robe of yellow ermine about him, — and such wore each one of them; and then arose Bedwyr, Arthyr’s chief butler, with a thousand men adorned with the like garments, to pass the yellow mead in innumerable gold and silver cups.

In the very year that Liberarius was governor of Edessa (525), Evagrius records how the city had been; ‘inundated by the waters of the Skirtus, which runs close by it; so that most of the buildings were swept away, & countless multitudes that were carried down by the stream perished.’ Among the buildings ravaged by the rising waters was the city’s cathedral, in which the Mandylion was normally housed, and it is clear a new home was needed. This furnishes the perfect backstory for the removal of sacred relics from the city, under the mantle of their conservation. All we need to do is to put the Mandylion is the luggage of Liberarius, then sail him to his estate in the north of Britain where he appears as Liberalis & Pelles. A tentative connection can be first made through St Serf. In the last chapter we saw how the Latin ‘Liberalis’ & the Greek ‘Eleuther’ were different names for the same man. This leads us to the vita of Serf, a Scottish saint said to be the son of a certain King Eliud of Canaan, who could well have been Liberarius, governor of Edessa. Another possible presence of Liberarius in the north of Britain is recorded by an obscure reference to a 6th century figure called Librarius, who appears in the vita of Saint Samson of Dol.

Now it came to pass that on a feast-day they went together to church, & there, among the many people to be discussed, they heard a discussion concerning a certain Librarius who lived in a remote land to the north… and it came to pass that at length, at the end of the third day when the fatigue of the journey was over, they reached the place where master Librarius had his dwelling, & there found the aforesaid master sitting with much people discoursing much on particular cases

The end of this passage, with Librarius acting in the capacity of a lawman, mirrors strongly a man of such weight of authority as the Byzantine Liberarius. Presuming he had taken the Mandylion to Britain, I believe our sticky-fingered ex-governer at some point received an order straight from the top; could the Monks of Saint Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai desert please have the Mandylion sent to them in order to copy the image of Jesus for the benefit of Christendom. The 12th-13th century French romances tell us that Peredur & Bors received the grail in Britain from a certain King Pelles & his son, Eliezer, at their court in Corbenic. What has happened here is a case of genflation, that is when an author receives into his hands two different names of the same personage, & places them together as kindred. In this striking instance, Pelles stands for Liberalis & Eliezer stands for Eleuther. Before being taken to Corbenic, the grail was kept at a place called Galaort. That Galla Law (bottom right) was Galafort is suggested by the presence  of a very ancient church dedicated to St Mary at neighbouring Monklowden, which is mentioned as being present at Galafort in the romances. We have already seen how Liberalis/Eleuther was a man of the north, & his realms could well have encompassed the south Edinburgh area,  especially when we hear of a certain ‘Liberton’ just a few miles north of Penicuik.

IMG_20141017_124150Examining the medieval French romances in which the story of the Arthurian quest for the holy cup first appears, we may observe how the principle heroes, Sir Peredur & Sir Bors, took the grail from Britain to a place in the east called Sarras. This place remains unidentified, but the Estoire del Saint Graal gives us a an important clue;

 They left the wood and set out their way, traveling until they arrived at a city called Sarras, between Babylon and Salamander. From this city came the first Saracens

 The Babylon as found in in medieval texts generally refers to the Egyptian capital city of Cairo, but Salamander is as yet an unidentified place. The text does tell us, however, that Sarras was the homeland of the Saracens, which tribe is placed in the Sinai Peninsular of Egypt by the 6th century Byzantine historian, Procopius.

 As one sails into the sea from there, the Egyptian mountains lie on the right, extending toward the south; on the other side a country deserted by men extends northward to an indefinite distance… This coast immediately beyond the boundaries of Palestine is held by Saracens, who have been settled from of old in the Palm Groves. These groves are in the interior, extending over a great tract of land, and there absolutely nothing else grows except palm trees. The Emperor Justinian had received these palm groves as a present from Abochorabus, the ruler of the Saracens there, and he was appointed by the emperor captain over the Saracens in Palestine

The romances tell us that the Grail was taken to a hilltop castle in the middle of a wasteland, a fantastic match for St Catherine’s fortified monastery as it rises over the deserts of Sinai. Saint Catherine’s still stands oasis-like to this day, in the middle of the Sinai desert of Egypt, by the very place where Moses received the Ten Commandments. The monastery was built at some point during the reign of Justinian (527-565), with impenetrable walls & sturdy buildings surrounding the Church of the Transfiguration. The monks of Saint Catherine’s were expert copyists of Christian relics; & we possess by them one of their earliest painted copies of the Mandylion. Known as the Christ Pantocrator, its foundation layer is 6th century, while the image contains iconography pointing directly to the reign of Justinian. The image of Jesus it contains would become the standard from the 6th century onwards; before this time Jesus had appeared different almost every time he had been depicted, but the Pantocrator Christ would unify the vision of Jesus for the Faith. Before the 6th century, the image of Jesus Christ had always been one of a clean-shaven, Apollo-like youth.

A mosaic dating to the 4th century AD, depicting Christ as a typical clean shaven, Greco-Roman youth. Eermans Handbook of History of Christianity (1977)
A mosaic dating to the 4th century AD, depicting Christ as a typical clean shaven, Greco-Roman youth. Eermans Handbook of History of Christianity (1977)

A hint that the Mandylion had once been housed at Sinai is contained in certain 14th century murals painted by the Knights Templar within churches across Cyprus. In the Church of Panagia Phorbiotissa at Asnou, the Mandylion is depicted as suspending over two visions: of Moses receiving the laws & the Burning Bush, both of which events occurred at Sinai. The church also contains images of Christ’s transfiguration, another event thought by biblical scholars to have occurred at Sinai, & to which miracle St Catherine’s Monastery was originally dedicated. In the deliciously informative book ‘Approaching the Holy Mountain,’ edited by Sharon Gerstel, we are told; ‘take the famous tenth century diptych showing the disciple Thaddeus & King Abgar who receives the Mandylion… A row of monastic saints below make makes it probable that the two wings of what may have been a tryptich are regions to be seen within the localism characteristic of Sinai.’ The same book also records how a 6th century abbot of St Catherines, St. John Climacus created a piece of art called ‘The Ladder of Divine Ascent’ in which; ‘the tablets have been transformed into two of the most venerated images of Christ in the Byzantine world, the Mandylion (an imprint of the saviour’s face on cloth) & its arch copy, the keramion, a miraculous reproduction on a tile… what is shown is a transfiguration, the metamorphisis of the stones into the living face of Christ which can also be seen behind & between the Mandylion & Keramion in a ghost-like sketch on blue ground.’


The Pantocrator Christ was the result of the Mandylion’s time in Sinai, & after the monks had finished their work, the icon was returned to Edessa before 544. In that year, according to the 6th century Syrian scholar Evagrius, it was miraculously used to ward off a Persian siege of the city.

In this state of utter perplexity, they bring the divinely wrought image, which the hands of men did not form, but Christ our God sent to Abgarus on his desiring to see Him. Accordingly, having introduced this holy image into the mine, and washed it over with water, they sprinkled some upon the timber; and the divine power forthwith being present to the faith of those who had so done, the result was accomplished which had previously been impossible: for the timber immediately caught the flame, and being in an instant reduced to cinders, communicated with that above, and the fire spread in all directions.

It is clear that the Mandylion contained the imprint of a complete man. In the 7th century, members of the Christian sect known as the Nestorians were living in Edessa, whose archbishop, Gewargis Silwa, described the Mandylion as, ‘an image of his adorable face & his glorified incarnation.’  While Andrew of Crete, in the early 8th century, describes ‘the imprint … of the bodily [somatikou] appearance” of Christ.‘ A similar description of a full-length Mandylion was made in the 8th century when, according to the Codex Vossianus, a canvas imprint of Christ’s complete body was being kept in a church in Edessa. A certain Smera states, ‘King Abgar received a cloth on which one can see not only a face but the whole body.’ Two centuries later, on the 15th of August 15, 944, the Mandylion appeared in Constantinople to a fanfare as keenly celebrated as a triumph of the Ceasars. The archdeacon & referendarius of the majestic Hagia Sophia cathedral, Gregory,  gave an eyewitness account of the Mandylion, describing how the image, ‘was imprinted only by the perspiration of the agony running down the face… embellished by the drops from his own side…. Blood & water there, & here the perspiration & figure.’ It is not difficult to imagine such an imprint as being made not long after the scene of carnage that was Saint Thomas’ murder in Tamil Nadu, when sultrified sweat would have mixed with fresh-wrought blood & left a pictorial remembrance on his burial robes, especially when Archdeacon Gregory continued that the image of Christ, ‘was imprinted only by the perspiration of the agony running down the face of the Prince of life as clots of blood drawn by the finger of god…… & the portrait… has been embellished by the drops from his own side.’

The sacred Mandylion would soon be nestling alongside many other sacred Christian relics in the Byzantine version of London’s Tate gallery – the Theotokos of the Church of Our Lady of Pharos. The Fourth Crusader, Robert de Clarie, recorded an inventory of the chapel’s precious relics, being; ‘within this chapel were found many precious relics; for therein were found two pieces of the True Cross, as thick as a man’s leg and a fathom in length. And there was found the lance wherewith Our Lord had. His side pierced, and the two nails that were driven through the midst of His hands and through the midst of His feet. And there was also found, in a crystal phial, a great part of His blood. And there was found the tunic that he wore, which was stripped from Him when He had been led to the Mount of Calvary. And there, too, was found the blessed crown wherewith He was crowned, which was wrought of sea rushes, sharp as dagger blades. There also was found the raiment of Our Lady, and the head of my Lord Saint John Baptist, and so many other precious relics that I could never describe them to you or tell you the truth concerning them.’ The idol would remain in Constantinople until 1204, when the Byzantine capital was sacked during the 4th Crusade by treasure-hungry Crusaders. In the year following the theft, Theodore Angelos wrote to Pope Innocent III;

The Venetians partitioned the treasures of gold, silver, and ivory while the French did the same with the relics of the saints and the most sacred of all, the linen in which our Lord Jesus Christ was wrapped after his death and before the resurrection. We know that the sacred objects are preserved by their predators in Venice, in France, and in other places, the sacred linen in Athens

Here we have a direct mention of the Mandylion, or sacred linen, being moved at least as far as Greece. The ‘French’ were the Knights Templar, of which number a certain Othon de la Roche was known as the ‘Lord of Athens. It is almost certain the Mandylion was Othon’s possession in Athens in 1204, after which it made its eventual way to the Templar heartlands in the south of France. Its destination can be properly detected by following certain clues found in the earliest writers of the Grail story, all of whom were connected to the Templars. Where Robert de Boron said the secret of of the Grail was taken to the ‘Vales of Avaron,’ we are led, not to Avalon – an errant transchisper – but to the Aveyron department, to the north & west of Montpellier. A second author, Wolfram von Eschenbach, then placed the Grail in France at a certain Montsalvat, adding its guardians were the ‘Templiesen.’ This leads us quite succinctly to the charming village of Montsalvy, in the department of… wait for it…. Aveyron (the red territory below).

url carte-index

Wolfram’s Grail was a bit weird actually, some kind of precreation gemstone which fell out of Lucifer’s crown after God pitched him out of Heaven. What matters most for us, however, is where Wolfram located the Grail – he definitely knew something about something. Some of his source material came through a certain Kyot of Provence, a gentle philochisp from Guiot of Provins, who was a well-known troubadour from the Champagne area of France. That Guiot participated in the fourth crusade puts him bang on the spot to know what happened to the Mandylion after its removal from Constantinople. According to the romances, the Holy Grail was said to have been kept in a castle, & there are indeed the ruins of an early medieval castle towering over Montsalvy to this day, upon the vista-laden Puy de l’Arbre. That this castle goes by the lovely name of Mandalrulfen provides our investigation with an amazing semantic match for the Mandylion. The area also has a connection to the very French Sir Lancelot du Lac, who first appears in the Grail Romances of the late 12th century. It is quite possible he is based upon a top Templar of that time called Alain Martel, from the Lot region of France, which gives us; (A)Lain ce Lot. The town of Martel is only 40 miles from Montsalvy, where – fascinatingly – the Puy de L’Arbre was once known as the Lancelot du Lac-esque, Puy de Lake.

Let us now acknowledge the esoterix behind Mandalrulfen castle once playing host to a secret Templar ceremony in which the Mandylion formed the climax of a series of iconic revelations. Think masonic lodges & grandmasters, hoods on-heads & stuff like that. The word ‘grail’ actually derives from the Latin ‘gradalis,’ which translates as ‘by degrees.’ This phrase describes the gradually unfolding exhibition of divine objects during the Grail ceremony, a ritualistic procession where a series of ‘holies’ were brought before the initiate, concluding with a vision of ‘Jesus’ as found on the Mandylion. One of the earliest Grail romances, the Grand St. Graal, lists many of these holies;

A sacred dish of blood
Nails of the Crucifixion
The Cross
The vinegar sponge
A scourge
A man’s head,
Bloody swords
Christ himself
A bloody lance head
A red man


All of these objects would have been stolen from the Theotokos of the Church of Our Lady of Pharos in Constantinople at the same time as the Mandylion. Among them is a dish, which would soon acquire the factochisp of it being the vessel used by Christ at the last supper, & the subsequent creochisp into it being the Holy Grail. In reality it was only a minor object during the Grail ceremony, of which the Mandylion took the central & climactic stage. In recent years Dr. Barbara Frale, unearth’d a vital piece of evidence in the Vatican archives, unearthing a 1287 description of a Templar ceremony made by a certain Arnaut Sabbatier. Conducted somewhere in the south of France, with only a few witnesses in attendance, Arnaut was shown a long piece of linen cloth sporting a bearded man, then was asked to kiss its feet. This was the last time on record in which the Mandylion was seen in France, for it seems to have vanished during the fall-out of the Papal persecution of the Templars in 1307. Spearheaded by the French king Philip IV, on Friday 13th of that year all the top Templars were arrested, then executed upon the grounds of torture-drawn confessions for mostly made-up misdemeanors. The Pope & the King then claimed vast tracts of Templar lands for themselves, along with all their deposited finances, which of course was a completely unpredictable bonus. The surviving Templars, eager to save their most precious relics, spirited the Mandylion out of France via the seaport of La Rochelle. Legend has it that some of the treasures were taken to Scotland, where in 1314 members of the order were fighting in the Scottish army at the Battle of Bannockburn. They were said to have originally landed on the Isle of May, in the Firth of Forth, which leads naturally to the River Esk & on to the village of Temple. Founded on lands given to the order by David I of Scotland in 1127, Temple was home to the main Templar receptory in Scotland. To this day, a local proverb tells us that at Temple;

Twixt the oak and the elm tree
You will find buried the millions free


At this junction, I would like to kill two academic birds with a single stone; the first of these theories is that the Turin Shroud was once the true burial garb of Christ; while the second is an idea that the Turin Shroud was also the Icon of Edessa. The truth, as I understand, is that the Mandylion contains the imprint of St Thomas, while the Turin Shroud is simply a medieval copy of the Mandylion. Carbon dating of the Turin Shroud was performed by the Vatican in 1988, after which Cardinal Ballestrero announced the linen was woven into existence at some point between 1260 & 1390.


These dates neatly coincide with the Turin Shroud’s first official appearance in the possession of the de Charneys, a noble French family & founders of the church at Lirey, near Troyes, where the ‘Holy Winding Sheet,’ was first put on display. The earliest reactions to the Charney shroud, made by two local bishops, was that it was nothing but a painting, with Bishop Henri de Poitiers adding that he even knew ‘the artist who had painted it.’ His statement was later confirmed in a 1390 memorandum composed by Bishop Pierre d’Arcis, who declared the shroud had been ‘cunningly painted.’

Presupposing that the Mandylion was in Scotland after 1307, let us examine the movements of Sir Geoffrey de Charney, the founder of the church at Lirey. He was Europe’s most admired knight at the time, a wielder of many honors & a possessor of much social power. We can place him quite distinctly in Scotland on two separate occasions, when the Chronicles of Froissart state he was on good terms with many of Scotland’s noblemen;

Mctray Duglas and the erle Morette knewe of their comynge, they wente to the havyn and mette with them, and receyved them swetely, sayeng howe they were right welcome into that countrey. And the barons of Scotlande knewe ryght well Sir Geffray de Charney, for he had been the somer before two monethes in their company: sir Geffray acquaynted them with the admyrall, and the other knyghtes of France

 The simple idea is this. On encountering the Mandylion on his first visit to Scotland, Sir Geoffrey de Charney returns the next year with his best painter to copy the image. The mention of the ‘erle Morette,’ ie the Earl of Moray, is significant for at the time of de Charney’s visit to Scotland, Isabella, the sister of John Randolph the third Earl, had married into the ‘Dunbar’ clan of Lothian & Berwickshire, a family of stalwart Knights Templars with whom we may assume the Mandylion had been sequestered. The presence of the icon in Lothian is suggested by a rare depiction among the cornucopian carvings of Rosslyn Chapel, only a few miles from Temple. There is a sculptured tableau in the chapel, atop a pillar cornice, on which a headless figure holds up a piece of material sporting the very face of Christ. That the Mandylion was kept at Rosslyn would help to explain the mystery behind the chapel’s steps, which are said to have been worn down by pilgrims who had traveled to Rosslyn from northern Spain. It is likely that this circumstance is connected to the Sudarium of Oviedo, said to be the face cloth used in the burial of Christ. A modern writer, Mark Oxley, records; ‘folklore recounts how pilgrims in their thousands traveled there after completing the arduous trek to the shrine of St James of Compostela.’ A pilgrim, after seeing the Sudarium, would have dearly wanted to complete the set, so to speak, by travelling to Scotland & Rosslyn in order to see the other material visually associated with the death & resurrection of Christ.

The Mandylion at Rosslyn
The Mandylion at Rosslyn

The building of Rosslyn Chapel officially commenced in 1446, directed by a local nobleman, Sir William Sinclair. In fact, he had been employing a group of builders & masons since 1441 – perhaps to build a secret underground chamber, or a tunnel to his castle? To this day, perhaps, in a secret compartment of the chapel’s crypt, or possibly wrapped around the body of one of the buried Templars, the Mandylion is still hidden at Rosslyn. Was it the very ‘secret shown to us’ which Marie Guise mentioned in a letter after visiting the chapel in 1546. For the moment, all we may do is speculate, for Historic Scotland controls the site & any excavatory work is strictly forbidden. In the Scotsman newspaper (27th July 2000), local project director, Stuart Beattie, says;

 We are not in the business of being grail hunters at the moment, although I think there are members of the trust and a lot of the public who would like to see invasive investigations. The immediate priority is to focus on conservation work, and then perhaps the trust might turn its attention to more esoteric matters


Next Wednesday, 03/01/18

Chapter 10

Shakespeare’s Grand Tour


chisp cover


Chapter 1: The Exodus
Chapter 2: The Aryan Invasion
Chapter 3: The Mahabharata
Chapter 4: Agastya
Chapter 5: The Picts
Chapter 6: Brunanburh
Chapter 7: The Young Shakespeare
Chapter 8: Shakespeare’s Blossom
Chapter 9: The Badon Babel Tree
Chapter 10: The Saxon Advent



chisper_effectChapter 1: Chispology 
Chapter 2: Princess Scota
Chapter 3: The Ithica Frage
Chapter 4: The Jesus Jigsaw
Chapter 5: Asvaghosha
Chapter 6: Dux Bellorum
Chapter 7: Dux Pictorum
Chapter 8: The Holy Grail
Chapter 9: The Mandylion
Chapter 10: Shakespeare’s Grand Tour
Chapter 11: The Dark Lady
Chapter 12: The Ripper Gang

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