Italian government scientists have claimed to have discovered evidence that a supernatural event formed the image on the Turin Shroud, believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
After years of work trying to replicate the colouring on the shroud, a similar image has been created by the scientists.
However, they only managed the effect by scorching equivalent linen material with high-intensity ultra violet lasers, undermining the arguments of other research, they say, which claims the Turin Shroud is a medieval hoax.
Such technology, say researchers from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Enea), was far beyond the capability of medieval forgers, whom most experts have credited with making the famous relic.
"The results show that a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin," they said.
And in case there was any doubt about the preternatural degree of energy needed to make such distinct marks, the Enea report spells it out: "This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date."
A statement by lead researcher, Dr Paolo Di Lazzaro, said: "If our results prompt a philosophical or theological debate, these conclusions we'll leave to the experts; to each person's own conscience," he said.
Luigi Garlaschelli, a professor of chemistry at Pavia University, told The Independent: "The implications are... that the image was formed by a burst of UV energy so intense it could only have been supernatural. But I don't think they've done anything of the sort."