Stigmata Phenomena

Stigmata, the term originates from the line at the end of Saint Paul's Letter to the Galatians where he says, "I bear on my body the stígmata of Jesus" - stigmata is the plural of the Greek word στίγμα, stígma, a mark or brand such as might have been used for identification of an animal or slave. An individual bearing stigmata is referred to as a stigmatic. The causes of stigmata may vary from case to case, though supernatural causes have never been proven. Stigmata are primarily associated with the Roman Catholic faith. Many reported stigmatics are members of Catholic religious orders. The majority of reported stigmatics are female. This historical phenomena have been such well-documented, that many sceptics have been forced to accept their legitimacy. The affliction creates marks on the hands, feet, side and brow which reflect the wounds Christ suffered on the cross.

The marks often bleed or secrete a liquid, and can appear and disappear in a matter of hours. It is usually only saints and the most devoutly religious who experience stigmata. It not only leaves a physical representation of Christ’s wounds, but stigmatics often feel pain near the marks, and many report a lifelong sense of despair and suffering. Some even feel the lashing of whips across their backs. Religious followers believe that the pain is an integral part of stigmata.

The first celebrated stigmatic was Saint Francis of Assisi. His holy marks appeared in 1222 and were of an extent never subsequently equalled. The skin on his hands and feet actually grew out of the wounds to form calluses in the shape of nails. Since his time, there have been over three hundred reported stigmatics, sixty-two of which were saints. Georgio Bongiavani is one of the most well known recent sufferers of stigmata. In his case, wounds on his hands and forehead seem to appear and disappear almost at will. The explanation for stigmata is still a mystery. Doctors have recorded that blood secreted by the wounds is a different type to the stigmatic’s blood group or is an unknown liquid, or even exudes a perfume.

In 1275, a Cistercian nun named Elizabeth received stigmata on her forehead, representing Christ’s crown of thorns, after she witnessed a vision of the Crucifixion. Church tradition has it that St. Catherine of Siena (1347–1380) was visited with the marks of Christ’s suffering, but through her great humility she prayed that they might become invisible, and, though the pain of the wounds remained, her entreaty was granted and the blood no longer flowed. The Catholic Encyclopedia states that the suffering that stigmatics endure is the “essential part of visible stigmata; the substance of this grace consists of pity for Christ, participation in his sufferings, sorrows, and for the same end—the expiation of the sins unceasingly committed in the world.” If the stigmatics did not suffer, the wounds would be “but an empty symbol, theatrical representation, conducing to pride.” And if the stigmata truly issue from God, it would be unworthy of his wisdom to participate in such futility, “and to do so by a miracle.” While not yet blessed with sainthood, Padre Pio (1887–1968), one of the most wellknown stigmatics of the twentieth century, saw a vision of a mysterious person whose hands, feet, and side were dripping blood on August 20, 1918.

After Padre Pio was delivered from such a terrifying sight, the priest suffered the first of the stigmata which would cause his wounds to bleed daily for 50 years. Therese Neumann (1898–1962) was also a stigmatic who became familiar to the general public. Born between Good Friday and Easter at Konnersreuth, Bavaria, Neumann suffered a series of serious accidents that brought blindness, convulsions, and paralysis. Her eyesight was restored on the day of the beatification of St. Therese of Lisieux (1873–1897), April 29, 1923, and on the day of St. Therese’s canonization on May 17, 1925, her mobility returned. Then, after a vision of Jesus on March 4, 1926, the stigmata began, and she would suffer bleeding from all the wounds, including shoulders and knees, on Fridays, especially during the church season of Lent. It is claimed that from Christmas 1926 until her death in 1962, Neumann didn’t eat or drink anything except daily Communion.

For those saints who were also stigmatics or for those stigmatics who may be authentic, the church has issued three qualifications regarding the production of the phenomena on their bodies:
1. Physicians could not succeed in curing the wounds with their remedies.
2. Unlike long-lasting wounds in others, those of stigmatics give off no foul or fetid odor.
3. Sometimes the wounds of the stigmatics emit the odor of perfumes.

In April 1998, various media carried the story of a priest who began to manifest stigmata in his side, hands, and feet while serving a parish in Antigua, West Indies. Reverend Gerard Critch was flown to New York to be treated by medical specialists. Dr. Joseph John was quoted as saying that no treatment he had given Critch had worked or been effective. According to Critch’s parishioners, they were thrown to the floor by an invisible force or felt their injuries healed when he blessed them. R. Allen Stanford, a banker from the United States who flew Critch to New York City on his private jet, said that oil was oozing from the marks on the priest’s feet, as it did from Jesus. “The wounds were real,” Stanford said (Evening Telegram, April 11, 1998).

The Roman Catholic Church does not see the onset of stigmata as bringing with it any increase of holiness, so its clergy recognizes the real possibility of conscious or unconscious fraud in some of the cases of stigmata reported almost annually. The church also acknowledges the role that psychosomatic medicine might play in explaining many instances of the spontaneous wounds that mimic those of Christ’s Crucifixion. A popular theory is that stigmata are psychosomatic afflictions brought on by extreme levels of worship. Some believe stigmatics unconsciously bring about these wounds by their devotion to Christ. Many stigmatics have reported their wounds appearing in their greatest intensity around the holy days of Easter, when sufferers are most engrossed by religious events. Similarly, each stigmatic’s wounds generally correspond to the marks on the statue of the person they most often worship. If the statue is nailed through the wrist and ankles, their wounds appear in the wrist and ankles. But of course, there is another theory: that stigmata are sent by God as a gift to only the most holy.

(Source : Wikipedia; The Most Strangest Mysteries; Encyclopedia of Unusual and Unexplained Things)
(Pic source : http://www.artchive.com/artchive/v/van_eyck/eyck_stigmata.jpg)
Stigmata Phenomena Stigmata Phenomena Reviewed by Tripzibit on 16:20 Rating: 5

2 comments:

  1. yup! this has also been used as a concept in one of nancy lohan movies

    ReplyDelete
  2. another modern stigmatic is Tiffany Snow in the USA - she heals and does miracles and has the five wounds.

    ReplyDelete

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