The Veil of Manoppello is an icon of the face of Christ (Holy Face). Its particular characteristic is being semitransparent. The face is visible on both sides (front–back) and, depending on the lighting and observation conditions, shows some differences in the anatomical details. An analysis of this icon has allowed us to clarify some aspects of the possible physical mechanism underlying its unusual optical behavior. It is a linen fiber fabric consisting of very thin threads with a thickness of about 0.1 mm, separated by distances even double the thickness of the threads, so that about 42% of the Veil is empty space. The fibers constituting the linen threads may have been cemented by an organic substance of chemical composition similar to cellulose, presumably starch, eliminating the air between them. Such a structure causes the optical behavior of the medium to be intermediate between those of a translucent medium (thin cemented linen threads) and a transparent one (empty space between the threads). The problem of digital image restoration in spatial terms has also been tackled, since the Holy Face is deformed due to distortions of the meshes of the Veil, caused by the yielding of the very fine structure of the fabric.
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