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Scavone Daniel C. (b. 1934)

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Jan S. Jaworski
University of Warsaw, Poland

American historian of Italian descent (his father emigrated from Sicily at the age of 16). He studied history at Ignatius Loyola University in Chicago, where he obtained his doctorate. He worked as a history teacher successively at Loyola College in Montreal, Rosary College and Niles College of Loyola University and Elmhurst College. He participated in postdoctoral programmes at the University of Texas at Austin, the American Academy in Rome and Columbia University in New York.

In 1970 he became professor of ancient and medieval history at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, where he worked until his retirement in 2000. There he taught postgraduate courses on the ancient Near East, the age of Augustus and early Christianity, and courses for upper-year students on Greek, Roman, Medieval, Renaissance and Reformation history. On three occasions he was awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship funding research at Vanderbilt University in Nashville (studying the Renaissance and Reformation in 1983 and postmodernism in 1984–1986). He travelled to Italy and Greece several times to study the history of civilisation. Over the years, he has conducted a number of studies and lectures at the University of Evansville on Greek and Roman coins, Zosimus (the historian of the fall of Rome), Augustus, Cicero, King Arthur, the historical Count Dracula, the Shroud of Turin, Christopher Columbus and the Holy Grail. These have resulted in dozens of scholarly articles, many readings and four books: Zosimus, Greek Historian of the Fall of the Roman Empire: An Appraisal of His Validity and Merits (1969); The Shroud of Turin: Opposing Viewpoints (1989, in the Great Mysteries series); Vampires: Opposing Viewpoints (1990, in the Great Mysteries series) and The Importance of Christopher Columbus (1992). In 1993, he was elected an honorary member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences, and the following year was awarded his Alma Mater’s highest award, the title of Distinguished Professor. Privately passionate about music (he met his future wife at a concert), he was a member of the board of the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra from 1975 to 1982. In 2006, an alumnus of the University of Southern Indiana honoured the Scavone couple by establishing the Annual Daniel & Carolyn Scavone Award (Scavone Awards) in Medieval Studies, given alternately to a student and an academic.

Daniel Scavone, as a medievalist, was concerned with the history of the Shroud of Turin, searching for any original documents (or later copies) that directly mentioned the “tomb cloth of Jesus,” and rejecting in his theses such documents that could only be indirectly interpreted as referring to the Shroud. He presented his research in articles and at international sindonological conferences. Accepting as correct Ian Wilson’s hypothesis identifying the Shroud of Turin with the Mandylion of Edessa, in his publications he analysed 16 documents from 964–1247 that allowed him to confirm such a view. He further focused his research on the least known period in the history of the Shroud, from its disappearance from Constantinople in 1204 to its appearance in Lirey. He argued that the Shroud was located in Athens under Othon de La Roche; in 1989 he found one of the two documents supporting this thesis: the records of Nicholas of Otranto, who, while accompanying Patriarch Benedict in discussions with the Greek clergy, saw with his own eyes… the Saviour’s tomb cloths (Riant E., Exuviae Sacrae Constantinopolitanae, vol. 2, 233f., n. 2, Geneva 1878; quoted by Scavone 2009). He was a strong proponent of the Besançon hypothesis, arguing that the Shroud was sent by Othon de La Roche from Athens to France between 1206 and 1219 (possibly by Pons de Chaponay in 1219), first to his castle of Ray-sur-Saône in Burgundy, and then transferred to the cathedral in nearby Besançon. Other hypothetical routes of the Shroud’s journey (involving the Knights Templar, King St Louis IX or the Smyrna Crusade) have, according to him, over-interpreted documents as their basis. The Shroud was taken by Othon’s descendants from Besançon Cathedral before its fire in 1349, in which the archive with the documents burned, making it impossible to determine the earlier details. The shroud remained the property of successive generations of Othon de La Roche’s descendants until Jeanne de Vergy (5th generation), who became (between 1351 and 1354) the spouse of Geoffroy I de Charny. The latter began the construction of the collegiate church of Lirey, where the Shroud was displayed during a period already well documented historically. By adopting this version of history, D. Scavone avoided the proliferation of uncertain indirect owners of the Shroud, but he also managed to explain the famous letter of Bishop d’Arcis from 1389. Scavone logically elucidated that, in fact, this part of the letter refers to the painting of a copy of the Shroud, which was returned to the Cathedral of Besançon in 1377 instead of the authentic cloth. The correspondence of this copy with the Shroud lost during the fire was confirmed by the then Bishop of Besançon, Guillaume III de Vergy, and therefore from the same family. The existence of this copy, until its destruction during the French Revolution, and its appearance are well documented.

Daniel Scavone also researched numerous stories about the Holy Grail and King Arthur, tracing their origins to the Shroud of Turin. In an old work by the German theologian Adolph von Harnack, he drew attention to a 6th Georgian manuscript containing the information that Joseph of Arimathea collected the blood of Jesus not into a chalice (called the Grail), as in popular legends, but into a “large linen cloth,” which Scavone identified with the Shroud. He also explained the copyist’s misreading of another text, which led to a legend linking the Grail to Britain and King Arthur, whereas the original term Britio Edessenorum meant a stronghold in Edessa and referred to the well-known legend of King Abgar of Edessa.

The above hypotheses of D. Scavone are based not only on an analysis of the Greek and Latin phrases used in the documents under consideration, but also take into account the political background and the various disputes involving the authors of the documents and the people described in them. His theses have been accepted and supplemented by several sindonologists, while others have strongly rejected them.


Academic Advisors, Advisor for School of History: Daniel Scavone, https://shrouduniversity.com/academicadvisors.php – 18 X 2021.

A History of Generosity, “Reflections” 2016, Spring, [on-line:] https://issuu.com/usipublications/docs/reflections_spring_2016 – 15 X 2021.

Dan Scavone, Travis Taylor to Receive Top Awards, University of Southern Indiana, April 29, 1994, https://digitalarchives.usi.edu – 18 X 2021.

Selected Syndonological Bibliography

Scavone D.C., Great Mysteries: The Shroud of Turin, Opposing Viewpoints, San Diego California 1989, p. 112 (also edition: Cengage Gale, 1989).

Scavone D.C., Geoffroy’s Vow and the Church at Lirey, “Australian Shroud News” 1987, Vol. 40, pp. 4–7, also: “Sindon” 1989, Vol. 1 (NS), pp. 129–132.

Scavone D.C., The Shroud of Turin in Constantinople: The Documentary Evidence, [in] Daidalikon: Studies in Memory of Raymond V. Schroder, S.J., eds. R.F. Sutton, Jr., Bolchazy-Carducci, Wauconda Ill 1989.

Scavone D.C., The Shroud in Constantinople: The Documentary Evidence, “Sindon” 1989, Vol. 1 (N.S.), pp. 113–128.

Scavone D.C., A Note on the Pharos Chapel in Constantinople, “Australian Shroud News” 1990, Vol. 61, October, pp. 10–12.

Scavone D.C., The Turin Shroud 1200 to 1400, [in:] Alpha to Omega: Studies in Honor of George John Szemler on his Sixty-Fifth Birthday, ed. W.J. Cherf, Chicago 1993, pp. 187–225.

Scavone D.C., The Influence of the Edessa Icon on the Legend of the Holy Grail, [in:] Actes du IIIé Symposium Scientifique International, Nice 1997, pp. 141–145.

Scavone D.C., A Hundred Years of Historical Studies on the Turin Shroud, [in:] “The Shroud of Turin: Unraveling the Mystery” Proceedings of the 1998 Dallas Symposium, eds. A. Adler, I. Piczek, M. Minor, Alexander NC 2002, pp. 58–70.

Scavone D.C., Greek Epitaphioi and Other Evidence for the Shroud in Constantinople up to 1204, [in:] Proceedings of the 1999 Shroud of Turin International Research Conference, ed. Bryan Walsh, Richmond VA 2000, pp. 185–195.

Scavone D.C., Joseph of Arimathea, the Holy Grail, and the Edessa Icon, “Arthuriana” 1999, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 3–31, https://doi.org/10.1353/art.1999.0007.

Scavone D.C., A Review of Recent Scholarly Literature on the Historical Documents Pertaining to the Turin Shroud and the Edessa Icon, [in:] Proceedings of the Worldwide Congress “Sindone 2000”, Orvieto, Italy 2001, Orvieto 2001.

Scavone D.C., British King Lucius, the Grail, and Joseph of Arimathea: The Question of Byzantine Origins, “Enarratio” 2003, Vol. 10, pp. 101–142, https://kb.osu.edu/handle/1811/71291 – 20 X 2021.

Scavone D.C., Did Geoffroy I de Charny Obtain the Present Turin Shroud on the Smyrna Campaign of 1346: The Issue Revisited, with a New Assessment of Primary Documents, 2005, https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/scavone2 – 18 X 2021.

Scavone D.C., The Mystery of the Holy Grail: Crossing the Sword Bridge to a Solution, plenary lecture, 32nd Conference of Mid-America Medieval Association February 23, 2008, Missouri Valley College.

Scavone D.C., Besançon and Other Hypotheses for the Missing Years: The Shroud from 1200 to 1400, [in:] Proceedings of the Columbus International Conference at Ohio State University August 14-17, 2008: “The Shroud of Turin Perspectives on a Multifaceted Enigma”, ed. G. Fanti, Padova 2009, pp. 408–433.

Scavone D.C., Documenting the Shroud’s Missing Years, [in:] Proceedings of the IWSAI 2010” International Workshop 4-6 May 2010 in Frascati, Italy, ed. P. Di Lazzaro, Frascati 2010, pp. 87–94.

Scavone D.C., Edessan Sources for the Legend of the Holy Grail, [in:] Proceedings of the IWSAI 2010 International Workshop 4-6 May 2010 in Frascati, Italy, ed. P. Di Lazzaro, Frascati 2010, pp. 111–116.

Scavone D.C., Constantinople Documents as Evidence of the Shroud in Edessa, [in:] “Shroud of Turin. The Controversial Intersection of Faith and Science”, conference at St Louis Missouri, 9-12 X 2014; video in: https://www.shroud.com/stlouis.htm – 20 X 2021.

Source of Image

Internet, https://www.shroud.com/images/stlscavone1.jpg (B. Schwortz might be the author)

Jan S. Jaworski

Professor Emeritus of the Faculty of Chemistry at the University of Warsaw. He conducted research in the field of electrochemistry of organic compounds (list of publications). Since 1982, he has followed the scientific research of the Turin Shroud and popularized it in numerous articles and lectures. Associated with the Polish Syndonological Centre in Krakow since its foundation.

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