An image "not made by the hands of man"
the Veil of Veronica is believed by many Christians to be the one
'true likeness' of the Holy Face of Jesus, we know that from the
earliest days of Christianity there existed another 'true likeness'
which was called the Mandylion,
and it seems certain that these two objects are not the same thing.
'Veronica', in spite of being a very mysterious portrait, still
seems to be a representation of some kind, while early references
to the Mandylion suggest that it was not a portrayal of the Face
of Christ, but the actual Face itself, directly imparted to the
cloth by some mysterious process - a "divinely made image,
not made by the hands of man" (Evagrius, Syrian Historian 527-600AD).
cycling images top left are icons almost certainly all painted
from the same source, the Mandylion.
History of the Mandylion
The Mandylion entered history very soon after the crucifixion of
Jesus. The following list gives important dates and events, for
which there is documented evidence.
AD There are oral traditions, and early written records
of these traditions, describing how several years after the crucifixion
of Jesus, one of the ‘seventy-two’ disciples, named Thaddaeus,
went to the town of Edessa (now ‘Urfa’ in South East Turkey)
at the request of the Syrian king, Agbar V. The king was very ill,
with a kind of leprosy.
While Jesus was alive, Agbar had sent an envoy to him begging for
help; the envoy returned with a promise that after his death, Jesus
would send someone to cure Agbar. Thaddaeus duly arrived in Edessa,
bringing with him a mysterious linen cloth, which bore the image of
the Holy Face of Jesus. Looking on this image, Agbar was struck by
a bright light, was completely cured and converted to Christianity.
After the death of king Agbar, his son Ma'nu began a persecution of
the Christians in Edessa. The mysterious cloth was hidden away for
safekeeping, most probably in a niche in the city walls above the
almost 500 years, the mandylion is not mentioned in any historical
The city of Edessa was almost destroyed by floods. Thirty thousand
people died and almost every major building was damaged. During the
rebuilding of the city, the linen cloth bearing the image of Jesus
was discovered in the city walls. It was immediately identified as
the mysterious Cloth, the mandylion, brought to king Agbar V by the
disciple Thaddaeus around 30 AD.
AD "From this time on", says Ian Wilson, "a new,
definitive, front-facing likeness of Christ appears in Art".
(The Turin Shroud, p.288)
holy relic remained in the cathedral of Hagia Sophia at Edessa until
944AD, and in spite of Moslem invasion in the 7th century, remained
safe and in tact in its well protected wooden reliquary.
Edessa was captured by Christian Knights, the Crusaders, and the Mandylion
was taken to Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine empire.
It was installed in the Chapel of the Pharos, in the Imperial Palace.
The Emperor Constantine ascended the throne of Byzantium, and had
a gold medal struck to commemorate the arrival of the Mandylion in
Constantinople the previous year. He also instituted a Feast day in
the Church, 16th August, to honour the Mandylion.
Moslems invaded and captured Constantinople.
Between 944 and 1204 AD, the Mandylion remained at Constantinople
in the Chapel of the Pharos, and was kept safe, in spite of the Moslem
capture of Constantinople in 1146 AD. In 1201
AD, the keeper of the holy relics at the Chapel of
the Pharos recorded in his inventory of the Chapel’s treasures,
‘the sindon (i.e. burial shroud) with the burial linens’.
AD Christian Knights (Crusaders) recaptured Constantinople.
A French Knight named Robert de Clari recorded seeing the mandylion
there, in the Church of St. Mary of Blachernae. He wrote:
sydoine in which Our Lord had been wrapped, stood up straight every
Friday so that the figure of Our Lord could be plainly seen there."
some sort of ritual took place in that Church, during which the purported
burial shroud of Christ was made to stand upright.
The Crusaders ransacked churches in Constantinople, and carried off
many priceless artefacts and relics, to return them to their ‘rightful
owners’, the Vatican in Rome and several other churches throughout
In the confusion the Mandylion disappeared: the French Crusader mentioned
above, Robert de Clari, recorded in his account of the events that
‘… neither Greek nor Frenchman knew what became of it.”
this time, the Mandylion disappears from all historical records,
but the Shroud of Turin does not...