The mystery of the Shroud of Turin has fascinated Russ Breault for more than 35 years.
During that time, Breault has become somewhat of an expert on the shroud, the centuries-old linen cloth that many believe bears the image of Jesus Christ. Breault has appeared or been involved in documentaries on “Good Morning America,” The History Channel and The Discovery Channel.
“There’s lot of cool mysteries, but there’s only one mystery that goes to the very bulls-eye of Christianity, because the significance of the shroud is that it speaks to the very life, suffering and resurrection of Jesus,” Breault said. “So there is no other artifact in the world that relates to those events other than the shroud.”
Breault is bringing his passion and knowledge of the shroud to Baton Rouge. The Shroud Encounter presentation is set for 6 p.m. Saturday, May 9, at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, 2250 Main St.
The free 90-minute program will feature more than 200 images in what Breault also calls “CSI Jerusalem.” A life-sized replica of the shroud will be on display.
“It really does peel back all the science and mystery and the controversy and addresses the question: Could this be the burial shroud of Jesus? Of course, that’s nothing that we can prove in a definitive fashion, but my position based on the evidence is I think it could be,” he said.
Breault, who lives in Atlanta, has presented the Shroud Encounter all over the United States and Canada.
“As someone once said, if this had been the shroud of Julius Caesar, no one would care. But since this is potentially the shroud of Jesus — probably the central figure of human history — that makes it profoundly significant,” said Breault, president and founder of the Shroud of Turin Education Project Inc., which works to raise awareness of the shroud.
Audiences eager to learn of the significance of the shroud often have “amazing reactions,” Breault said, adding that some have even called the presentation “life-changing.”
“People are very much moved by it. And each person reacts and responds in different ways,” he said. “But I think all through the presentation, there’s going to be quite a few moments where something clicks in someone’s head.”
Breault recalls the excitement he felt about the shroud in the early 1980s as a student at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia. News of the shroud was garnering a lot of buzz, and Breault was asked to do a story for his college newspaper.
He did research and talked to scientists.
“By the time I wrote my first article, I was hooked,” he said.
Breault stayed with his marketing major, but he didn’t stray far from his fascination of the shroud.
“Growing up, I had always been interested in the sciences, so even though I didn’t major in the sciences, here’s this mysterious object that’s considered the most analyzed artifact in the world,” he said.
A Christian, Breault doesn’t agree with the notion of the shroud as simply art.
“If this was a work of art, we could have figured this out 100 years ago,” he said. “The fact that this mysterious image of a 5-foot-10 crucified man with all the same markings and wounds as we see as recorded in the four Gospels, that this still remains a mystery is astonishing.”
The evidence says it’s more than art, he said.
“If that’s the case, then there must be some trace of ink, dye, pigmentation, something that was used by this artist or some kind of process that we can determine that this artist used and have found nothing,” he said. “Or what about the blood? Is it paint? Is it animal blood? In fact, it’s human blood with human male DNA.”
The presentation doesn’t just attract Christians, Breault said.
“You’ve got a lot of people that are curious about the shroud, as an artifact, as an unsolved mystery,” he said. “You have a lot of people that may come and see this. They may not go to church but they have seen a documentary or read an article or two and they are intrigued by it.”
Breault continues to present the Shroud Encounter around his marketing-related job.
“I tell people I’m TV advertising by day and shroud by night,” he said.
Breault said he has seen the actual Shroud of Turin three times. The shroud is currently on public display — the first time in five years — in Turin, Italy. The display concludes June 23. The next display probably won’t be for another 10 years, Breault said.
For information on the Shroud Encounter, call Sacred Heart at (225) 387-6671 or go to shroudencounter.com.
Sharing the Christian Life
The new Christian Life Magazine hopes “to bring unity, energy and awareness to the body of Christ in and around Baton Rouge” and share stories of people who are “doing creative work in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,” said Beth Townsend, the magazine’s publisher and editor.
The free Baton Rouge-based monthly magazine debuted in April with a cover story featuring Baton Rouge native Jarred Coates, co-producer of the successful 2014 Christian movie “God’s Not Dead” starring Kevin Sorbo.
Townsend, a member of The Chapel on the Campus at LSU, said the Christian Life Magazine stories will be about Faith Life, Family Life, Learning for Life, Healthy Life and Opportunities for Life.
The content will be testimony-driven, she said.
“One of the best ways to experience God is to hear first-hand what He is doing in the lives of others,” she writes in her inaugural Publisher’s Letter.
The magazine, with a circulation of 10,000 a month, will include book reviews, a pastor’s perspective and a calendar of local events.
A Mississippi native, Townsend started writing at The Atlanta Christian Family Magazine while living in Atlanta.
Townsend said the next issue will feature former LSU and New York Giants standout Corey Webster.
For information, call (225) 910-7426 or go to batonrougechristianlifemagazine.com.
Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Terry Robinson can be reached at (225) 388-0238 or email@example.com.