Shroud of turin carbon dating video
The Vatican, tiptoeing carefully, has never claimed that the 14-foot linen cloth was, as some believers claim, used to cover Christ after he was taken from the cross 2,000 years ago.
Francis, reflecting that careful Vatican policy, on Saturday called the cloth, which is kept in a climate-controlled case, an "icon" -- not a relic.
The new examination dates the shroud to between 300 BC and 400 AD, which would put it in the era of Christ.
It determined that the earlier results may have been skewed by contamination from fibers used to repair the cloth when it was damaged by fire in the Middle Ages, the British newspaper reported.
Three independent teams of scientists had been given scraps of the linen, which they analysed using radiocarbon dating - a technique that uses the decay of a natural, radioactive form of carbon to figure out how long ago a once-living sample ceased to be alive and thus in this case when the cloth was made from plant fibres.
The new test, by scientists at the University of Padua in northern Italy, used the same fibers from the 1988 tests but disputes the findings.
Within its pages is an illustration of Christ being prepared for his entombment.
The cloth that will wrap his body is clearly visible.
The cloth has been kept at the cathedral since 1578.
He also said his tests also supported earlier results claiming to have found traces of dust and pollen on that shroud that could only have come from the Holy Land.