‘The Turin Shroud is only one of the many burial cloths which were circulating in the Christian world during the Middle Ages. There were at least 40,’ said Lombatti, citing research by the 19th-century French historian Francois de Mely, who had studied surviving medieval documents.

‘Most of them were destroyed during the French revolution. Some had images, others had blood-like stains, and others were completely white,’ Lombatti told the Daily Mail.

Based on unpublished manuscripts at the National Library of Paris, Lombatti reveals that the shroud was obtained by the French knight, Geoffroy de Charny, during a crusade to liberate the Turkish city of Smyrna from Muslim rule in 1346…

‘The relic has nothing in common with real Second Temple burial shrouds,’ he said. Lombatti, author of six books and a leading authority on the history of the shroud, will present his evidence at a meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Amsterdam in July.