Sudarium of Oviedo

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The Sudarium of Oviedo, or Shroud of Oviedo, is a bloodstained cloth, measuring c. 84 x 53 cm, kept in the Cámara Santa of the Cathedral of San Salvador, Oviedo, Spain.[1] The Sudarium (Latin for sweat cloth) is claimed to be the cloth wrapped around the head of Jesus Christ after he died, as mentioned in the Gospel of John (20:6-7).[2] The small chapel housing it was built specifically for the cloth by King Alfonso II of Asturias in AD 840; the Arca Santa is an elaborate reliquary chest with a Romanesque metal frontal for the storage of the Sudarium and other relics. The Sudarium is displayed to the public three times a year: Good Friday, the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross on 14 September, and its octave on 21 September.

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Background and history

The Sudarium is severely soiled and crumpled, with dark flecks that are symmetrically arranged but form no image, unlike the markings on the Shroud of Turin. It is not mentioned in accounts of the actual burial of Christ, but is mentioned as having been present in the empty tomb later.

According to believers, the Sudarium and the Shroud took different routes. There is no reference of the Sudarium for the first several hundred years after the Crucifixion, until its mention in 570 in an account by Antoninus of Piacenza, who wrote that the Sudarium was being cared for in a cave near the monastery of Saint Mark, in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

The Sudarium was apparently taken from Palestine in 614, after the invasion of the Byzantine provinces by the Sassanide Persian King Chosroes II, was carried through northern Africa in 616 and arrived in Spain shortly thereafter.

The cloth was at one point dated to the 7th century by the radio carbon method. However, it has been argued that the determination was quite unreliable and other indications must be considered as well.[3]

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