NIAGARA FALLS – A multimedia program exploring the mystery of the Shroud of Turin will be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday in Historic Holy Trinity, a former Catholic church at 1419 Falls St.

The program, called “Shroud Encounter,” is free and open to the public, but a free-will offering will be collected to benefit preservation of Historic Holy Trinity.

“Shroud Encounter,” produced by the Shroud of Turin Education Project, will be presented by Russ Breault, an international expert who has been featured on documentaries including “Mysteries of the Ancient World” on CBS and, more recently, “The Real Face of Jesus?” on the History Channel. He also has lectured at several colleges and universities.

Breault’s presentation at Historic Holy Trinity is a fast-moving, big-screen production with more than 200 images covering nearly all aspects of shroud research.

The Shroud of Turin is a 14-foot-long linen cloth that has been in Turin, Italy, for more than 400 years and bears the faint front and back images of a 5-foot-10, bearded, crucified man with apparent wounds and bloodstains that match the crucifixion account of Jesus. Millions of people believe it is the burial shroud of Jesus.

The historical trail goes back through Italy, France and Asia Minor (what is now Turkey). The shroud may have originated in the Middle East, according to botanical evidence.

Scientists concluded in 1981 that the shroud was not the work of an artist, but skeptics have tried inconclusively to show how a medieval artist could have produced the image. The super- ficial image penetrates only the top micro-fibers to the depth of a single bacterium. There are no stains of decomposition.

Claims about the authenticity of the shroud were largely dismissed in 1988, when three carbon dating laboratories indicated a medieval origin.

Based on evidence from a later peer review, however, some scientists now believe the testing was flawed and the carbon dating result inconclusive and no longer considered to be valid. As the mystery continues, National Geographic has called the Shroud of Turin “one of the most perplexing enigmas of modern times.”

“Shroud Encounter” will cover aspects of the history, science and art of the shroud, as well as theories of how the image may have been formed.

Doors for Saturday’s program open at 6:15 p.m.

Do you have an idea for religion news in Niagara County? Write to Richard E. Baldwin, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, NY 14240 or email him at