Detectives claim to have revealed how Jesus Christ looked as a child – based on computer forensics and the world’s most famous relic. Using the Turin Shroud, the supposed burial cloth of Jesus, police investigators have generated a photo-fit image from the negative facial image on the material. And from this they reversed the ageing process to create an image of a young Jesus, by reducing the size of the jaw, raising the chin and straightening the nose. The technique effectively reverses the method that Italian police use to generate current likenesses of criminals, including senior mob bosses, for whom new photo fit images are needed when they have been on the run for decades.

Such techniques were used to produce an image of Mafia boss of bosses Bernardo Provenzano, from a photo taken in 1959. Provenzano was eventually captured in 2006. This image of Jesus as a young boy, and the methods used to create it, will be the subject of an upcoming programme on Italian television. But the exercise was done to mark the latest ostensione – a rare public display of the Shroud at Turin Cathedral. The 14-foot-long sheet, made of herring-bone linen cloth, appears to show the front and back impression of a bearded man with long hair. MORE