Not long ago I became painfully aware that my Christian inheritance was more than a mere hand me down. It was an intricate piece in the puzzle that was my mind. From the memories of being under the strict tutelage of my Roman Catholic grandmother to the failed attempted suicides of a renegade believer, Christianity kept glaring at me through the darkness of an infinite sort. No mater which way I turned there she ways, The Madonna, our Lady of Sorrow and my appointed Lord and Savior Yesus Christ. Never the less I strayed like a child with A.D.D. adding to the suffering of my already painful existence. Never once thinking that I was still being cared for, haunted by the spirit of those who once suffered long before me.
There are many different forms of suffering. Physical, mental, emotional even the worldly financial suffering is worth an honorable mention. Never the less, I want to discuss the extent of ones suffering. A bad fight with your spouse can lead to a headache, a miss-step on the stairs can lead to broken bones, and good old spiritual anguish over all of the above can lead to visible or invisible marks on the persons physical being. The stigmata is of the same reasoning. The only difference is that this spiritual suffering is grossly intense and life long. Technically the stigmata is seen as the wounds suffered by Christ inflicted on the saints. They may be explained by super natural causes, history tells us that many ascetics bear on hands, feet, side or brow the marks of the Passion of Christ with corresponding and intense suffering.
Yesus Christ, as we already know was unjustly crucified over 2000 years ago by what was then the Roman Empire. The Romans thought that since He was claiming to be the King of the Jews He should be made to wear a crown, so they made Him one out of thorns. He was made to carry His cross, made of wood to Calvary, the place of His execution. Once there, after suffering a terrible whipping, He was nailed to the cross hand and foot. After that to verify His death they stabbed Him in the rib cage. These are the five wounds that wounds that signify that one is truly carrying the makes of the stigmata.
Due to a movie that was released in 1999 the stigmata is more known now than is was before. Still many people have never heard or seen anything about the stigmatic sufferer. Their existence is so well established historically that, in general, they are no loner disputed by unbelievers, who now seek only to explain them naturally. That is the problem sometimes encountered when science sticks its ugly head out. I must admit if I were a atheist I would not entertain the thought of such a thing, and to be completely truthful I probably would disregard it had it not been for the fact that I know personally that ones inner turmoil's will eventually manifest on the outside of said person.
The stigmata is far from being the only trail the saints have to endure. The life of stigmatics is but a long series of sorrows which arise from the divine malady of the stigmata and end only in death. It seems historically certain that ascetics alone bear the stigmata; moreover, they have visions which correspond to their role of co-sufferers, beholding from time to time the blood-stained scenes of the Passion.
With many stigmatics these apparitions were periodical, like St.Catherine de' Ricci whose ascetics of the Passion began when she was twenty (1542), her canonization states lasted for twelve years. They recurred with minute regularity. The ecstasy lasted exactly twenty-eight hours, from Saturday noon till Sunday afternoon at four o'clock, the only interruption being for the saint to receive Holy Communion. Catherine conversed aloud, as if enacting a drama. This drama was divided into about seventeen scenes. On coming out of the ecstasy the saint's limbs were covered with wounds produced by whips, cords etc.
St.Catherine of Siena at first had visible stigmata but through humility she asked that they might be made invisible, and her prayer was heard. This was also he case with St.Catherine de' Ricci, a Florentine Dominican of the sixteenth century, and with several other stigmatics. The sufferings maybe considered 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 the wounds would be but an empty symbol, theatrical representation, conducing to pride. If the stigmata really come from God, if would be unworthy of His wisdom to participate in such futility, and to do so by a miracle.
There were no stigmatics known prior to the thirteenth century. The first mentioned is St. Francis of Assisi, in whom the stigmata were of a character never seen subsequently; in the wounds of feet and hands were excrescences of flesh representing nails, those on one side having round back heads, those on the other having rather long points, which bent back and grasped and grasped the skin. The saint's humility could not prevent a great many of his brethren beholding with their own eyes the existence of these wonderful wounds during his lifetime as well as after his death. The fact is attested by a number of contemporary historians, and the feast of the Stigmata of St.Francis is kept on 17 September.
There has been several attempted counts the number of stigmatics. There are supposedly 321 stigmatics in whom there is every reason to believe in a Divine action. It is believed that others would be found by consulting the libraries of Germany, Spain, and Italy. In this list there are 41 men. There are 62 saints or blessed of both sexes of whom the best known were:Notable Stigmatics
- Blessed Lucia Brocadelli of Narni [1476-1547]
Saint Catherine de' Ricci [1522-89], Dominican
Saint Catherine of Siena [1347-80], Dominican tertiary
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich
Saint Francis of Assisi [1186-1226]
Saint Gemma Galgani
Saint Veronica Giuliani [1600-1727]
Saint John of God [1495-1550]
Saint Faustina Kowalska
Saint Marie de l'Incarnation [1566-1607]
Marie Rose Ferron
Marcelline Pauper, one of the Sisters of Charity of Nevers
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina
Saint Rita of Cascian [1386-1456]
Saint Lutgarde [1182-1246], A Cistercian
Saint Margaret of Cortona [1247-97]
Saint Clare of Montefalco [1268-1308] Augustinian
Blessed Angela of Foligno [D. 1309], Franciscan Tertiary
Saint Lidwine [1380-1433]
Saint Frances of Rome [1384-1440]
Saint Colette [1380-1447], Franciscan
Blessed Osanna of Mantua [1499-1505], Dominican Tertiary
Saint Catherine of Genoa [1447-1510], Franciscan Tertiary
Blessed Baptista Varani [1458-1524], Poor Clare
Blessed Lucy of Narni [1476-1547],Dominican Tertiary
Blessed Catherine de Racconigi [1522-89],Dominican Tertiary
Blessed Mary Anne of Jesus [1557-1620], Franciscan Tertiary
Blessed Carlo of Sezze [d.-1670], Franciscan Tertiary
Saint Mary Frances of the Five Wounds [1715-91], Franciscan Tertiary
Cathrine Emmurich [1774-1824], Augustinian
Elizabeth Canori Mora [1774-1825], Trinitarian Tertiary
Anna Maria Taigi [1769-1837]
Maria Dominica Lazzari [1815-48]
Maria de Moerl [1812-68] and Louise Lateau [1850-83], Franciscan Tertiary
Some facts having been set forth,it remains that there really is no explanations that has been seen. Some physiologists, both Catholics and free-thinkers, have maintained that the wounds might be produced in a purely natural manner as if self-inflected or during attacks of somnambulism, or unconsciously. No stigmatic ever manifests these wounds from start of somnambulism, or unconsciously. No stigmatic ever manifests these wounds from start to finish in the presence of others. Only when they are un-watched do they start to bleed. (There is one apparent exception to this rule: Catia Rivas.) But physicians have always taken measures to avoid these sources of error, proceeding with great strictness, particularly in modern times. Sometimes the patient has been watched night and day, sometimes the limbs have been enveloped in sealed bandages. Mr.Pierre Janet placed on one foot of a stigmatic a copper shoe with a window in it through which the development of the wound might be watched, while it was impossible for anyone to touch it. Self-inflicted wounds are common among people with certain kinds of brain disorders. Claiming that the wounds are miraculous is rare and is more likely due to excessive religiosity than to a diseased brain, though both could be at work in some cases. Some say by the sole action of the imagination couples with lively emotions. Others state that the person being keenly impressed by the sufferings of the Savior and penetrated by a great love causing this preoccupation acts on her or him physically, reproducing the wounds of Christ. The likelihood that the wounds are psychosomatic(psychogenic purpuras), manifested by tortured souls, seems less likely than hoaxing in most cases. There are two main reasons for believing the stigmata are usually self-inflicted, rather than psychosomatic or miraculous.That being said, no explanation has been offered of three circumstances presented by the stigmata of the saints:
1. Physicians do not succeed in curing these wounds with remedies.
2. On the other hand, unlike natual wounds of a certain duration, those of stigmatics do not heal. to this there is known but one exception: St. Rita of Cassia had received on her brow a supernatural wound produced by a thorn detached from the crown of the crucifix. Though this emitted an unbearable wound, there was never any suppuration or morbid alteration of the tissues.
3. Sometimes these wounds give forth perfumes, for example those of Juana of the Cross, Franciscan prioress of Toledo, and Bl. Lucy of Narni. Smelling like flowers.
To sum up, there is only one means of proving scientifically that the imagination, that is auto- suggestion, may produce stigmata: instead of hypothesis, analogous facts in the natural order must be produce, namely wounds produced apart from a religious idea. This had not been done.
With regard to the flow of blood it has has been objected that there have been bloody sweats, but Dr. Lefebvre, professor of medicine at Louvain, has replied that such cases as have been examined by physicians were not due to a moral cause, but to a specific malady. Moreover, it has often been proved by the microscope that the red liquid which oozes forth is not blood: its color is due to a particular substance, and it does not proceed from a wound, but is due, like sweat, to a dilation of the pores of the skin. But it may be objected that we unduly minimize the power of the imagination, since, joined to an emotion, it can produce sweat; and as the mere idea of having an acid bon-bon in the month produce the emission of a liquid and this liquid might be blood. The answer is that in the instances mentioned there are glands [suboriparous and salivary] which in the normal state emit a special liquid, and it is easy to understand that the imagination may bring about this secretion; but the nerves adjacent to the skin do not produce the effects in question. What has been said of the stigmatic wounds applies also to the the sufferings. There is not a single experimental proof that imagination could produce them, especially in violent forms.
Another explanation of these phenomena is that the patients produce the wounds either fraudulently or during attacks of somnambulism, unconsciously. But physicians have always taken measures to avoid these sources of error, proceeding with great strictness, particularly in modern times. Sometimes the patient has been watched night and day, sometimes the limbs have been enveloped in sealed bandages. Mr. Pierre Janet placed on one foot of a stigmatic a copper shoe with a window in it through which the development of the wound might be watched, while it was impossible for anyone to touch it [op. cit. supra]
The stigmata are wounds believed to duplicate the wounds of Christ's crucifixion that appear on the hands feet, and sometimes on the side and head, of a person. The fact that the stigmata appear differently on its victims is strong evidence that the wounds are not genuinely miraculous [Wilson].
St.Francis of Assini [1182-1226], devoted to imitate Christ in all ways, apparently inflicted himself with wounds and perpetrated the first stigmatic fraud. There have been several hundred others since, including Magdalena de la Cruz [1487-1560] of Spain [who admitted her fraud when she became seriously ill] and Therese Neumann of Bavaria [1898-1962]. The latter reportedly survived for 35 years eating only the "bread" of the Holy Eucharist at mass each morning. She was also said to be clairvoyant and capable of astral projection. One of the more recent stigmatics, Fr. James Bruce, claimed not only to have Christ's wounds but also that religious statues are common. Needless to say, he packed the pews. He now runs a parish in rural Virginia where the miracles have ceased.
Self-inflicted wounds are common among people with certain kinds of brain disorders.Claiming that the wounds are miraculous is rare and is more likely due to excessive religiosity than to a diseased brain, though both could be at work in some cases.
The likelihood that the wounds are psychosomatic[psychogenic purpuras], manifested by tortured souls, seems less likely than hoaxing in most cases. There are two main reasons for believing the stigmata are usually self-inflicted, rather than psychosomatic or miraculous. One, no stigmatic ever manifests the wounds from start to finish in the presence of others. Only when they are unwatched do they start to bleed. [There is one apparent exception to this rule: Catia Rivas.] And two, Hume's rule in " Of Miracles" is that when an alleged miracle occurs we ask ourselves which would be more miraculous, the alleged miracles, or the least improbable, and conclude that we are witnessing not miracles but pious frauds. All 32 or so recorded cases of stigmata have been Roman Catholics and all but pious frauds. All 32 or so recorded cases of stigmata is known to have occurred before the thirteenth century,* when the crucified Yesus became a standard icon of Christianity in the west. Reasonableness seems to require the non-miraculous explanation.
One of the latest to be added to the list of alleged stigmatics is Audrey Santo, a child who has been in a coma since 1987 when she was three years old. What kind of people are inspired by the concept of God who would render a child comatose and then inflict wounds on her? People seem to hunger for some tangible religious experience, and where ever there is such profound want there is the opportunity for what may be called "pious fraud." Money is rarely the primary motive, the usual impetus being to seemingly triumph over adversity, renew the faith of believers, and confound the doubters.
People also don't want to think God would allow purposeless and gratuitous pain. They like to fell important and please those with power over them. What could be more more special than being chosen to suffer the Savior's wounds and torments? What could please God more than being a living proof of God's existence? Well being honest and truthful might be a good start.IVTSIVTP the Complete Portfolio