It is Not a painting



Surrexit a mortuis a Matthew 28:7 He has been raised from the dead

Donato Vittore

As I am an orthopaedic and a traumatologist by profession, and a university professor in Bari, some years ago I wanted to make radiograms T.A.C. to realize tridimensional bony models, so I provided myself with a very sophisticated apparatus which obtains images. It is a very high resolution scanner, one of those used on the satellites to photograph the earth. The responsible Father in the friary of Manoppello, through a common friend, got to know my activity and took a great interest in my analyser. As he wanted to examine closely the Holy Face, he asked me the kindness of taking some more searching photographs of the ancient and mysterious Veil. This invitation gratified me very much so that not long after I went to Manoppello with my special camera.
Which were the procedures and the technics utilized to obtain all the data? I used a little digital scanner applying it behind a camera with bellows where the analyser works as a film but the exposed image really is a digital photograph that can be recorded together with a large quantity of data. Elaborated by computer, it can be enlarged considerably without losing focalization, so we could analyse fribre by fibre or the whole image. It is different from a normal photograph because the abundance of the data at will permits the constant elaboration of the image. The normal photograph, on the contrary, even though exposed and fixed, can’t give further information because the resolution is standardized.
Observing the Holy Face, we can have the first sensation that we are in front of a painting. A careful analysis and the study of all the peculiarities perplexed me: the more we look at it, the more we doubt it is a painting.

In fact, we can see this image in the same way if we are in front of it or behind it and I do not know a painting giving the same image before and behind, especially if we put the source of light only in one side. The thinness of the Veil gives it an extraordinary transparence and also shows the same tonality of colour. My studies were searching: after I had photographed it in its place, I could observe the image obtained by means of a monitor that permits an extraordinary enlargement without putting out of focus the images and I observed that in the interstices of weft and warp there aren’t residuals of colours. The Relic of Manoppello is not an oil-painting because there is no deposit of colours among the threads; it is not a water-colour painting because the outlines of the eyes and of the mouth are so clean while the water-colour would have soaked the threads in a not definite way with blurs and smudges in every particular; it is not a print because the image is perfectly visible before and behind: the Veil is very ancient and in times past the utilized technique was not so sophisticated.
I think to go on with a photographic method amplifying more and more this image also by using my computer, trying to enter into the intimate structure of the fibre to verify if it has inside sediments of colours or it is a clear fibre which assumed a colour and I do not know the whys and the wherefores. Everything is wrapped in a shroud of fascinating mystery.