The Turin Shroud is a cipher because it conceals a picture within another.
Robert W. Padgett
A comprehensive analysis of the Enigma Variations conducted over nine years unmasked a cornucopia of ciphers. While seemingly extraordinary, these discoveries are entirely consistent with a reigning feature of Elgar’s psychological profile – an intense fascination for ciphers. More importantly, their decryptions are significant because they provide the answers to key questions concerning the Variations. What is the secret melody on which the Enigma Theme is a counterpoint? The decrypted answers consistently point to Ein feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress) by Martin Luther. What is the “dark saying” associated with the Enigma Theme? The surprising answer is a Music Box Cipher embedded in the opening six measures of the Enigma Theme. Who is the secret friend and inspiration behind Variation XIII? The answers from multiple ciphers point to Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of Elgar’s Roman Catholic faith. Amazingly, a subset of these Enigma Variations ciphers refers to the Turin Shroud and its first official photographer, Secondo Pia.
The Enigma Theme contains several music ciphers. One of the most basic among them is the Locks Cipher. In measure 6, there is an oddly placed double bar marking the end of something other than the Enigma Theme which concludes in bar 19. In these opening six measures, only the members of the string quartet play: Violin I, Violin II, Viola, and Cello. Adding up the notes for each of these active parts produces number totals that are easily matched to corresponding letters in the alphabet. Based on an elementary number-to-letter key (1 = A, 2 = B, 3 = C, etc.), the note totals produce “LOQX.” This is the phonetic equivalent of locks, a term suggesting the presence of multiple keys, and by extension, ciphers. Applying the formula in reverse (Z = 1, Y = 2, X = 3, etc.), the same note totals produce the letters “LOJC.” In the Bible, the term “Lo” means to look, gaze, or behold. “JC” are the initials for Jesus Christ. Together “LOJC” may be read as “Behold Jesus Christ.” By combining the plaintext results of the cipher going forwards (LOQX) and backward (LOJC) in the alphabet, a third solution emerges: “LOOX LQ JC.” This phrase (or ‘dark saying’) reads as “Looks like JC,” or “Looks like Jesus Christ.” This solution is an apt description of the miraculous image on the Turin Shroud first revealed by Secondo Pia’s famous photographic negative in May 1898.
In Variation II there is an oddly placed hyphen between the S and P in the initials H. D. S-P. The problem is Hew David Stewart Powell’s university records confirm he did not use a hyphen in his name. The reason behind Elgar’s decision to insert a hyphen where one clearly does not belong is to intimate the “S-P” stand for a very different name: Secondo Pia, the first official photographer of the Turin Shroud in 1898. The Roman numerals for this movement (II) affirm the first name as Secondo is Italian for second. The toccata-like runs that distinguish this movement represent Powell’s warm-up routine on the piano. Observe that the first three letters of that instrument (piano) are Pia, the second name. It should also be mentioned the word toccata is Italian meaning “to touch.” The reference to Secondo Pia is important because the Turin Shroud is later mentioned in the Romanza Cipher found in Variation XIII.
The Romanza Cipher
In Variation XIII, Elgar quotes a fragment from a concert overture by Mendelssohn three times. These three fragments are identified within the score by quotation marks. The original German title of Mendelssohn’s overture is Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt. The English translation of that title is Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage. The Mendelssohn fragments sonically portray the “deathly stillness” of a calm sea, a phenomenon that imperils sailing ships. With four sounding notes per quotation, the total adds up to twelve notes for all three quotations. The original language, the number of quotations, and the number of notes in quotations present some intriguing parallels with the unstated principal Theme’s common three-word title in German consisting of twelve letters.
It was deduced these parallels were not arbitrary but formed the basis for an elimination cipher. Called the Romanza Cipher, its operation requires eliminating letters from the title Ein feste Burg that match note letters from the Mendelssohn quotations. This results in removing six letters with six left behind. The remaining letters (INSTUR) are an anagram for “TURIN S.” The word starting with S is literally shrouded due to an unspecified number of missing letters. However, knowing the first word (Turin) makes the task of unmasking the missing letters straightforward, revealing the word “SHROUD.” The Mendelssohn fragments further provide a clue regarding this shrouded term because sailing ships have a particular feature in their rigging known as a shroud.
|Standing rigging called shrouds.|
Elgar sonically portrays the sea in Variation XIII by means of four Mendelssohn fragments from the concert overture Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage. The word sea is the phonetic equivalent of the letter C, the third letter in the “FACE Cipher. The remaining letters are provided by the Mendelssohn fragments which are in the keys of A-flat major, F minor and E-flat major. It is hardly a coincidence those key letters form the well-known music cryptogram F-A-E, hinting at the fact they contain yet another music cryptogram. Adding the letter “C” to the letters “FAE” generates an anagram of “FACE.” Whose face inspired Variation XIII? The one miraculously revealed by Secondo Pia’s famous photographic negative of the Turin Shroud. This mysterious friend’s initials are encoded by the Roman numerals XIII. “X” represents the number ten, and the tenth letter in the alphabet is ”J.” III stands for three, and the third letter is ”C.” Together the Roman numerals openly conceal the initials ”JC”.
|A photographic negative of the Turin Shroud|
The L Cipher
Elgar originally designated Variation XIII with a solitary capital “L”. Many scholars have debated the significance behind that letter. With the discovery of various coded references to the Turin Shroud, the meaning becomes clear. The Turin Shroud has distinctive “poker hole” burn patterns in the shape of a capital letter “L”. That feature is the only discernible letter on the Turin Shroud. When inverted, the capital letter “L” resembles the upper case of the Greek letter gamma. During the Byzantine era, the gamma was used to decorate alter clothes known as gammadia. The L-shaped poker holes on the Turin Shroud may have been deliberately put there to designate the cloth as sacred.
|L-shaped “poker hole” pattern on the Turin Shroud|
At the end of the original score, Elgar paraphrases a passage from Torquato Tasso’s epic Christina poem Jerusalem Delivered. There are various anomalies associated with this paraphrase since the source quote is altered, the date provide (1595) is incorrect, and the translation is inaccurate. Through anomalies Elgar signals the presence of a cipher, inviting careful scrutiny to arrive at a decryption. In this case, Tasso is the key because he was the guest of honor when the Shroud was first delivered to the city of Turin in 1578. The title of Tasso’s poem is a further clue, for Jesus was crucified and entombed in the outskirts of Jerusalem, his body wrapped in the very shroud Elgar acknowledges only in secret. It should be observed Elgar placed the name Tasso in brackets, a needless addition unless he was hinting at the very shape of the sacred cloth Tasso revered and wept before as he celebrated communion. The brackets around the name Tasso cleverly suggest the rectangular configuration of the Turin Shroud. Tasso composed a sonnet commemorating the 1578 ostension of the Turin Shroud, praising Christ's execution of mortality with the phrase, “[it is] in this marvelous blood where death has died.”
This brief review documents multiple coded references to the Turin Shroud in the Enigma Variations. The first is the “Locks” Cipher in the opening six measures of the Enigma Theme. When decoded, it produces the phrases “Behold Jesus Christ,” and “Looks like Jesus Christ.” Both are fitting descriptions of the Turin Shroud. The Hyphen Cipher in Variation II encodes the name of Secondo Pia, the first official photographer of the Turin Shroud. The timing of Pia’s famous photograph in May 1898 is credible because it predates the genesis of the Enigma Variations by five months. In Variation XIII, the Romanza Cipher names the Turin Shroud as “TURIN S,” leaving the word shroud symbolically shrouded by its five absent letters.
The Mendelssohn quotations in Variation XIII help realize this decryption because Goethe’s original poem describes a sailing ship stranded on a calm sea, and those vessels possess a particular type rigging known as a shroud. The importance of that sacred relic to Roman Catholics like Elgar is highlighted by the “FACE” Cipher, for Pia’s famous photographic negative of the Turin Shroud vividly revealed for the first time the face and crucified body of a man many believe to be Jesus. Elgar originally designated Variation XIII with a single capital letter “L”, and that is the only discernible English letter on the Turin Shroud formed by distinctive “poker hole” patterns. Finally, the Tasso Cipher serves as a distinct literary reminder of Elgar’s interest in the Turin Shroud because Tasso was the guest of honor when it was delivered to the city of Turin in 1578. Tasso was so moved by the experience that he composed a sonnet to commemorate this special exhibition of the Turin Shroud. With so many ciphers pinpointing the same famous religious relic, there is no room for doubt. The literary and cryptographic evidence affirms that the Turin Shroud served as a major source of inspiration behind the Enigma Variations. To learn more about the secrets of the Enigma Variations, read my eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed.