For other senses of this word, see stigma and stigmata (disambiguation).

Stigmata are bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus. 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.
<ref name="mystical">
{{cite web
  | last = Poulain
  | first = Augustin
  | title = Mystical Stigmata
  | work = The Catholic Encyclopedia
  | publisher = Robert Appleton Company
  | location = New York
  | date = 1912
  | url =; | accessdate = 2009-05-18}}</ref>

File:Receiving stigmata.jpg

The first well-documented case and the first to be accepted by Church authorities as authentic, was that of Saint Francis of Assisi (11821226), who first experienced stigmata in La Verna, Italy, in 1224.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> 

In the century after the death of St. Francis, more than 20 additional cases of stigmata were reported. Stigmata have continued to be reported since, with over 300 cases by the end of the 19th century.<ref name="mystical" /><ref name="Stigmata">{{cite web
 | url=
 | title=The Stigmata : a history of various cases (1883)
 | publisher=London : Thomas Richardson}}</ref>

In the 20th century, the number of cases increased dramatically; over 500 cases have now been recorded. In modern times, increasing numbers of ordinary people as opposed to the usual mystics or members of religious orders, have  began to report stigmata. Although rarer, cases have been reported among non-Catholic Christians,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> including a young black Baptist girl.Template:Fact
The first written record of a woman to have received stigmata is in the Medieval Codex Iuliacensis, circa 1320–1350, reporting the stigmata of Blessed Christina von Stommeln (d. 1312), whose relics rest in the Propsteikirche in Jülich, near Aachen.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> It is claimed that one can still see marks from the crown of thorns on Bl. Christina's skull, which is publicly displayed during the octave beginning every 6 November in Jülich.


Cases of stigmata take various forms. Many show some or all of the five Holy Wounds that were, according to the Bible, inflicted on Jesus during his crucifixion: wounds in the wrists and feet, from nails, and in the side, from a lance. Some stigmatics display wounds to the forehead similar to those caused by the crown of thorns. Other reported forms include tears of blood or sweating blood, wounds to the back as from scourging, or wounds to the shoulder as from bearing the cross. In addition, in some cases lashes on the back can be witnessed.

Some stigmatics claim to feel the pain of wounds with no external marks; these are referred to as invisible stigmata. In other claims, stigmata are accompanied by extreme pain. Some stigmatics' wounds do not appear to clot, and stay fresh and uninfected. The blood from the wounds is said, in some cases, to have a pleasant, perfumed odor, known as the Odour of Sanctity.

Individuals who have obtained the stigmata are many times described as ecstatics.  At the time of receiving the stigmata they often have a mystical experience or a vision of Christ.  In more recent times an individual’s stigmata is reported to heal within a few hours of its reception.  Blood pours from the individual’s wounds for unspecified amounts of time and suddenly dries up, and the wound is healed.  Some individuals with stigmata in the past sought medical attention, but neither remedies nor medical treatment of any other sort could cure their wounds.  Stigmatics, such as  St. Francis were affected by the stigmata for an extended period of time; however, the wounds never rotted or possessed a rank odor or became infected<ref> </ref</ref>. Reported stigmatics are usually devout Roman Catholics. The wounded area is most likely to heal in less than 2 hours leaving no mark or trace of a wound.

==Famous stigmatics==
*Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226)
*Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)
*Saint Rita of Cascia (1381-1457)
*Blessed Lucia Brocadelli of Narni (1476-1544)
*Saint John of God (1495-1550)
*Saint Catherine of Ricci (1522-1590)
*Saint Marie of the Incarnation (1566-1618)
*Saint Veronica Giuliani (1660-1727)
*Sister Therese Margaret
*Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824)
*Louise Lateau (1850-1883)
*Sister Mariam Thresia (1876-1926)
*Saint Gemma Galgani (1878-1903)
*Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (aka Padre Pio; 1887-1968)
*Therese Neumann (1898-1962)
*Marthe Robin (1902-1981)
*Saint Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938)
*Zlatko Sudac (born 1971)
*Haile Selassie (of the Rastafari religion)|}

==Skepticism==No case of stigmata is known to have occurred before the thirteenth century, when the depiction of the crucified Jesus in Western Christiandom emphasized his humanity.<ref name="mystical" />

In his paper Hospitality and Pain, Christian theologian Ivan Illich states: "Compassion with Christ... is faith so strong and so deeply incarnate that it leads to the individual embodiment of the contemplated pain." His thesis is that stigmata result from exceptional poignancy of religious faith and desire to associate oneself with the suffering Messiah.

In 1998, Edward Harrison suggested that there was no single mechanism whereby the marks of stigmata were produced. He found no evidence from a study of contemporary cases that the marks were supernatural in origin. However marks of natural origin need not be hoaxes, he concluded. Some stigmatics marked themselves in attempt to suffer with Christ as a form of piety. Others marked themselves accidentally and their marks were noted as stigmata by witnesses. Often marks of human origin produced profound and genuine religious responses. Dr Harrison also noted that the male to female ratio of stigmatics which for many centuries had been of the order of 7 to 1, had changed over the last 100 years to a ratio of 5:4. Appearance of stigmata frequently coincided with times when issue of authority loomed large in the church. What was significant was that early stigmatics were not predominantly women, but that they were non-ordained. Having stigmata gave them direct access to the body of Christ without requiring the permission of the church through the Eucharist. Only in the last century have priests been stigmatized. There is currently a cluster of cases in the United States.Template:Fact

From the records of St. Francis’ physical ailments and symptoms modern doctors believe they know what health problems plagued the holy man.  Doctors believe that he had an eye ailment known as trachoma, but also had quartan malaria.  Quartan malaria causes the liver, spleen, and stomach to be infected causing the victim intense pain.  One complication of quartan malaria occasionally seen around Francis’ time period is known as purpura.  Purpura is a purple hemorrhage of blood into the skin.  Purpuras usually occur symmetrically, which means each hand and foot would have been affected equally.  If this were the case of St. Francis he would have been afflicted by ecchymoses, an exceedingly large purpura.  The purple spots of blood may have been punctured while in the wilderness and therefore appear as an open wound like that of Christ’s.  This is not historically supported, only a speculation by some present day physicians.<ref>,9171,883261,00.html </ref>

== Non-Christian stigmata ==
Mystical contemplation can induce bodily stigmata in any meditative tradition, which need not necessarily be Christian.
*Among the Waraw of the Orinoco Delta, a contemplator of tutelary spirits may mystically induce the development of "openings in the palms of his hands."<ref>Johannes Wilbert : Warao Basketry. OCCASIONAL PAPERS OF THE MUSEUM OF CULTURAL HISTORY, University of California at Los Angeles, No. 3, 1975. pp. 5-6</ref> These tutelary spirits are presented by the "itiriti snake." Francis of Assisi was said to be endowed with his stigmata by a Seraph. A seraph (an angelic being with three sets of wings) is literally translated as "burning one," however "srap" is a word associated with snakes; and so, some mistake seraphim as serpent guardians (a mistaken connection to the "itiriti snake")
*Among the Mapuche of south-central Chile, where a machi (mystic) may contemplate a filew (helper-spirit), there was a case of a "girl who had a machi calling but who was being punished by her filew because she had not yet been initiated. The girl’s feet bled with open sores, and she went into an altered state of consciousness frequently and uncontrollably for hours on end."<ref>Ana Mariella Bacigalupo : Shamans of the Foye Tree. University of Texas Press, Austin, 2007.  p. 88</ref>*Buddhist "stigmata"<ref>Keith Taylor & John Whitmore : Essays into Vietnamese Pasts. Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University, 1985. p. 278 -- cited in Ing-Britt Trankell & Laura Summers : Facets of Power and Its Limitations. Department of Cultural Anthropology, Uppsala University, 1998. p. 24</ref> are regularly indicated in Buddhist art.


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