Thursday, April 22, 2010

This date in late Roman history ... April 22

On this day, in Anno Domini 525, the city of Edessa, metropolis of Osroene in western Asia minor, was destroyed by a flood of the river Scirtus. Procopius describes this flood as catastrophic in scope, killing more than 1/3 of the population, or nearly 30,000 people.

The Roman Emperor Justin had the city rebuilt at great expense. During the reconstruction, an artifact was discovered in a niche above Edessa's western gate--the famed Mandylion of Edessa. This legendary image of the face of Jesus was purportedly brought to Edessa after the death and resurrection of Christ by His disciple, Thaddaeus.

The historian Evagrius Scholasticus, writing in the late 6th century, mentions the Mandylion as being instrumental in defeating a siege of Edessa by the Persian king Chosroes in AD 540.

In recent years, some scholars have attempted to link the Mandylion to the Shroud of Turin. One of the most compelling of these attempts may be found in Ian Wilson's book, The Blood and the Shroud.

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