As a premed student at BC, Gil Lavoie discovered two great passions: occupational and preventive medicine, and the Shroud of Turin, said by some to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. “It can be approached as a forensic object,” Lavoie explains. “During my undergrad years, I picked up a book in the BC bookstore by a French surgeon who had examined the blood stains on it early in the 20th century, and I was fascinated.”
It was some years before he began to investigate the Shroud in earnest. Learning that it would be publicly exhibited for the first time in 45 years in 1978, he began to read the research and speculation about its authenticity and correspond with scientists about it. He was ultimately permitted to photograph it.
Lavoie has been studying the Shroud ever since. “As others looked at it chemically or microscopically, I examined the blood marks,” he recalls. “Initially, I was a skeptic. I didn’t want to perpetrate a fraud.”
After many years of research, including ground-breaking insights into Jewish burial customs, Lavoie became convinced that the Shroud is a genuine artifact of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. “It’s real,” he says, a case he has made in two books on the subject (Unlocking the Secrets of the Shroud, published in 1998, and Resurrected: Tangible Evidence Jesus Rose from the Dead, published in 2000).
Though retired from seeing patients, Lavoie continues to conduct medical research as well as examine new theories and evidence on the Shroud. He and his wife live in Boston.
What has been the most satisfying moment in your professional life?
My career in medicine has been extremely satisfying. I’m very lucky that I’ve been able to study the Shroud of Turin so closely, and even to make some contributions to the understanding of this extraordinary object.
In your personal life?
My family: being a son, a father, and now a grandfather.
What is your next goal?
I have another book I’m working on about the Shroud, and I’m also completing a research project on HIV-AIDS prevention.
Why did you decide to attend BC?
I grew up in Springfield, and I loved Boston. Both the city and school were exciting places to be.
What is one thing everyone should do while at BC?
Start by learning the basics of their faith.
Where is your favorite spot at the Heights?
The Gasson bell tower.
How have you changed since graduation?
I’ve realized how little I know!
Where did you live freshman year?
What was your favorite BC class?
Philosophy of Medical Ethics, with Father Malloy.
What was your favorite BC activity?
I just studied!
How much can you sing of the BC fight song?
What was your first job?
Making plastic swimming pools. I was a machine operator in a factory.
How do you relax?
With a glass of wine.
What do you look forward to each day?
Having supper with my wife.
What is something your friends don’t know about you?
I’m not going to tell you!
Who would play you in the film version of your life?
Those guys are all dead.