STIGMATA AND STIGMATIST


Stigmata is spontaneous manifestation of bloody wounds on a person's hands, feet, forehead and back - similar to the wounds of the crucified Jesus. Those who describe stigmata categorize these experiences as divine or mystical. History tells us that many ecstatic bear on hands, feet, side, or brow the marks of the Passion of Christ with corresponding and intense sufferings. These are called visible stigmata. Others only have the sufferings, without any outward marks, and these phenomena are called invisible stigmata. The infliction of stigmata is called stigmatization.

Healing is usually reported within a few hours after the wounds appear. Some people who suffer from stigmata report feels of sadness, depression, weakness, their body in physical pain, prior to the bleeding. The blood will pour forth from openings on the body for an unknown amount of time -then just as suddenly disappear and heal. The openings can be just in one area of the body - such as the hands or feet - or in several areas of the body at the same time. The person is almost always in pain and discomfort when this occurs.

There have been over 500 reported stigmatics who have displayed wounds similar to those inflicted upon Jesus. The first recorded case of these wounds was in the year 1222, by a man named Stephen Langton of England. Saint Francis of Assisi first suffered the wounds in La Verna, Italy, in 1224.

Other famous stigmatists include Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint John of God, and Saint Marie of the Incarnation. The most famous stigmatist of the twentieth century was Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (1887-1968).

Stigmata was more recently experienced by Brother Roque (1968-1996); a novice in the order of Los Hijos de Los Hijos de La Madre de Dios (The Sons of the Sons of the Mother of God in Villavicencio, Colombia; and Canadian Lilian Bernas who began claiming to exhibit stigmata in 1992.

There have been historical stigmatics that were known to have faked wounds, such as Magdalena de la Cruz (1487-1560), who admitted the fraud.Similarly self-inflicted wounds can be associated with certain brain disorders. Some people who fake stigmata suffer from Munchausen syndrome which is characterised by an intense desire for attention. People with Munchausen hurt themselves or fake an illness hoping to end up in a hospital where they can enjoy attention and care.

There are People with fake stigmata also. In this way they try to gain recognition. Self-inflicted stigmata heal naturally.

Though some people feel stigmata is psychosomatically induced, this is rarely the case. Stigmata can affect women as well as men. The blood may be of a different type than the person who is having the experience.

Classically, Stigmata appear at as many as five locations of the Holy Wounds, namely the hands or wrists, feet, and side (often fatal), and other wounds endured during the Passion, including:

  • Wounds caused by a Crown of Thorns, although sometimes invisible
  • Whip lashings or scourging on the back
  • A wound in the side, caused by a spear, or lanceNail holes in the wrists, or hands
  • Nail holes in the ankles, or feet
  • Formations of the flesh in the form of nails: the heads of the nail being rectangular and an inch on the topside and the tip of a nail on the backside, usually curved in as if hitting another surface.
Supposedly, a real stigmatic exhibits the wounds in a five-part series. Each series is separated by a length of time, only to repeat again like so: A; A,B; A,B,C; A,B,C,D; A,B,C,D,E. At the end of each sequence the stigmatic is sometimes known to smell a specific type of flower; see also odor of sanctity.

Also, according to experts, the blood seeping from the wounds of the individual should be the blood of Christ, thus yielding two types of blood from one wound.

There is debate over the historical method crucifixion, if nails were driven through the hands or wrists. Stigmata appear on the hands of some stigmatists, and the wrists of others. Skeptics see this as evidence that the wounds have a human origin rather than a divine one, as divine wounds might be expected to be more consistent. The odor has a smell of jasmine.
In supposed real Stigmata, the blood flows freely and cannot be stopped with traditional medical care. Faked Stigmata are superficial and heal quickly. Blood will appear fresh and of a bright, deep color. The blood flow will often go against the laws of gravity. The stigmata are usually received with states of extreme ecstasy.

In his paper on "Hospitality and Pain", iconoclastic Christian theologian Ivan Illich touches on the phenomenon of stigmata with characteristic terseness: "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 Christ.




Recurrent Bleeding

Usually, those people who have the stigmata are seen to bleed from one or more of (hose wounds. Such bleeding is almost always recurrent: that is, it starts and stops. Sometimes the bleeding is literally periodic: that is, it recurs at evenly spaced intervals. Many stigmatic for example, bleed on Fridays or during a twenty-four-hour period that lasts from Thursday night to Friday afternoon, periods traditionally associated with Christ’s own Passion. Other stigmatic’s bleed on particular feast days or during liturgical seasons (like Lent) that commemorate the suffering of Christ. Others bleed in response to some recurrent activity, like the reception of Holy Communion.

Several things should be noted about this bleeding. First, in the typical case not all the wounds bleed all the time. St Francis, for example, never bled from his hands and his feet, only his side. Other stigmatics bleed sometimes from some of their wounds, sometimes from others. Second, I am using terms like blood and bleeding simply for convenience. In the vast majority of cases, the fluid seen on the wounds of the stigmatic was never subjected to chemical analysis.

Furthermore, I will not at all be concerned with those questions ha have dominated previous discussions of the bleeding associated with the stigmata: whether the blood is real or whether it flows spontaneously or results from Some mechanical process (such as a self-inflicted wound). On the contrary, if we again (as in the discussion of blood miracles) rule out supernatural cause- (ion, then the stigmata and the associated bleeding must ultimately have a psychological origin. What matters most is that the stigmatic believes she (or he) has wounds from which blood flows and that others believe this as writ.

It is of secondary importance to identify the precise physiological or mechanical processes that produce the wounds.

Pain

Virtually all stigmatic’s experience great pain. This pain is partly associated with the stigmata themselves; that is, they feel pain in the wounds that develop in their hands, feet, and side. But their experience of pain usually goes beyond this. Stigmatic’s almost always feel a wide variety of pains in various parts of their body, and this generalised pain is independent of the bleeding associated with their wounds.


There are two kinds: visible and invisible

(1) Visible, a sort of impression of the Sacred Wounds of the Saviour, on the feet, hands, side, and forehead. These wounds appear spontaneously, without being provoked by any exterior wounding, and they issue periodically a non-corrupted blood.

(2) Invisible, which cause great suffering without the outward marks. Stigmatization only exists among ecstatics, and is preceded and accompanied by very severe suffering, physical and moral, which renders the subject conformable to Jesus’ suffering; not pathological, but due to the intervention of an intelligent and free cause acting on the stigmatics.

Stigmata are symbols of union with Christ and participation in His martyrdom; found only on persons who practise the most heroic virtues and have a great love of the cross. The first stigmatic known is Saint Francis of Assisi. Venerable Gertrude van der Ousten (died 1358), received the sacred stigmata because of her great devotion to the Sacred Passion. Dr Imbert names 321 stigmatics, in whom there is every reason to believe Divine action. Great precaution is needed in determining whether stigmata be real, apparent, or due to self-deception on the part of the stigmatist.

1. Physicians do not succeed in curing these wounds with remedies. 

2. On the other hand, unlike natural wounds of a certain duration, those of stigmatics do not give forth a fetid odour. 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 odour, 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. 

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 produuced, namely wounds produced apart from a religious idea. This had not been 
done.

Famous Stigmatics :


Blessed Helen : In 1237, Blessed Helen, a Dominican sister in Hungary, received a mark on her right hand during the Feast of Saint Francis, and later a wound in her side.

Saint Christina of Stommeln received wounds to her hands, feet, forehead and side. According to legend, her wounds bled every Easter

Of these, Marie de Moerl spent her life at Kaltern, Tyrol (1812-68). At the age of twenty she became an ecstatic, and ecstasy was her habitual condition for the remaining thirty-five years of her life. She emerged from it only at the command, sometimes only mental, of the Franciscan who was her director, and to attend to the affairs of her house, which sheltered a large family. Her ordinary attitude was kneeling on her bed with hands crossed on her breast, and an expression of countenance which deeply impressed spectators. At twenty-two she received the stigmata. On Thursday evening and Friday these stigmata shed very clear blood, drop by drop, becoming dry on the other days. Thousands of persons saw Marie de Moerl, among them Gorres (who describes his visit in his "Mystik", II, xx), Wiseman, and Lord Shrewsbury, who wrote a defense of the ecstatic in his letters published by "The Morning Herald" and "The Tablet".
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Louise Lateau The first flow of blood occurred on the 24th of April 1868; this was a Friday. On that day the young girl noticed that blood was issuing from the left side of her chest. With her habitual reserve she said nothing about this occurrence. On the following Friday the flow recurred in the same place; in addition, blood escaped from the upper surface of both feet. Neither did she make public this fresh incident, but she confided it to the director of her conscience.

The priest, though he considered the fact extraordinary, did not wish the imagination of the young person to dwell upon it; he reassured her, and advised her not to speak of it.

On the third Friday, the 8th of May, blood flowed in the course of the night from the left side and from both feet. Towards nine in the morning it escaped in quantity from both hands, as much from the backs of the hands as from the palms. It was impossible to keep the fact secret any longer, and the cure of Bois d Haine  counseled Louise to consult a physician. Since this time the bleeding has recurred in the same places every Friday, with certain variations that we will record later on. Finally, on the 25th of September 1868, the blood, for the first time, oozed from her fore head.

We will now describe the different stages of this phenomenon. If in the course of the week, from Saturday to Thursday morning, an inspection is made of the parts from which blood flows on the Friday, this is what is seen: on the back of each hand there is a rather oval surface nearly one inch in length. It is rather more pink in colour, and it is smoother than the neighbouring skin, and does not show a trace of oozing of any kind; on the palm of each hand there is also an oval surface, of a light-pink colour, corresponding precisely to the stigmatized surface of the back; on the upper aspect of each foot the impress has the shape of a long square with rounded angles, the square being a little more than au inch long. To conclude, there are on the soles of the feet, as on the palms of the hands, small surfaces of pinkish-white colour When these parts are examined with a magnifying glass, the epidermis is seen first to be entire, delicate, and free from any chafing; through the epidermis is recognized the donna or true skin, with its usual characters; thus, in the palms of the hands and in the soles of the feet the papillæ are seen arranged in linear parallel series, and separated by small furrows. These papillæ, examined by the glass, seem slightly atrophied and flattened, and this gives to the skin the smooth appearance already men tioned. When one or other of the stigmata does not bleed for several weeks, the pink colour disappears, the papillæ recover their usual appearance, and the place of the bleeding is not to be recognised. .

The impressions on the forehead do not remain: after Friday the points that have bled cannot be recognised. A feeling of delicacy that will readily be understood prevented me from examining the side during the week; but I have been able to do 80 with all necessary attention on the Friday, during the ecstasy, when the young person does not know what is passing around her.

I will give an account of this examination later on. Hitherto I have described the condition of the stigma- bearing parts, as they arc on other days than Fridays. The first symptoms indicative of the approaching efflux of blood occur on the Thursday, generally about noon. On each of the pink surfaces already described on the hands and feet a vesicle is seen to commence, and to rise little by little. When completely developed it is a rounded, hemispherical prominence on the surface of the skin; its base is the same size as the pink surface on which it rests—that is, nearly an inch long, by a little more than half an inch broad: this vesicle is formed by the epidermis detached from the dermis, and elevated as a half-sphere by serous fluid within.

This serous fluid is clear and transparent; yet it often as sumes a reddish tint more or less deep on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. This is because the epidermis in these places is thick and resisting, and does not separate quickly enough; the blood, oozing out before the separation, mingles with the serosity. There is not any swelling or redness in the zone of skin round the vesicle.


The efflux of blood begins generally in the night, between Thursday and Friday, almost always between midnight and one o’clock. It does not take place from all the stigmata at once, but in succession, and not in any regular order. Most frequently it commences at the side; and at different Most frequently it commences at the side; and at different hours the stigmata of the hands, the feet, and the forehead successively’ begin to bleed.

The phenomenon occurs thus : the vesicle bursts, and the contained serosity escapes. This occurs in different ways; sometimes by a rent lengthways, sometimes by a crucial or a triangular division. In the last case the rupture of the vesicle suggests the puncture of a leech, but this is a mere resemblance; to prove which it is enough to ascertain the entire absence on the hands and feet of those three-cornered white and indelible scars which always follow leech-bites. But a still more decisive observation is that this triangular rent only divides the epidermis: in fact, if this be removed by rubbing with a cloth, the little wound is no longer seen, and the true skin is found to be quite intact.6

Directly after the rupture of the vesicle and the escape of the fluid, blood begins to ooze from the bare derma. The flow of blood almost always detaches the pieces of scarf-skin that make the vesicle, so that the bleeding surface of the true skin is quite bare; sometimes, however and especially on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, where the epidermis is very tough, the blood collects and forms a clot in the partly-torn vesicle.

At each of my Friday visits I have taken pains to satisfy myself that the left side of the breast was bleeding. I have four times examined the part uncovered, and this is what I have ascertained: the flow occurs at the level of the space between the fifth and sixth ribs to the outer side, and a little below the middle of the left breast. At my first examination, on the 30th of August 1868, there was no trace of vesicle; the epidermis was not detached from the derma; the colour of the skin was natural. The blood could be seen oozing from three minute points scarcely visible to the naked eye; these three points were in triangular form, with about half an inch between each. At my three other inspections a vesicle had formed, as on the feet and hands; it had ruptured, and the blood was flowing from the bared derma over a round surface rather more than half an inch across.

I have had an opportunity of examining four times the bleeding of the head. Underneath the hair, which is soaked with blood and matted together, it is difficult to study the state of the skin; but to examino it on the forehead is, of course, easy. There, there is no appearance of vesicle, no denuding of the derma, no change of colour in the skin. The blood is seen to ooze from twelve or fifteen points situated round the forehead. A band, two fingers’ breadth in width, encircling the head and passing across the middle of the forehead, at an equal distance from the eyebrows and the roots of the hair, would cover the bleeding circlet.

This circlet is slightly swollen, and is the seat of a painful sensation, which is increased by pressure. When the bleeding points are examined with a lens, the blood is seen to filter through minute abrasions of the epidermis. Most of these are triangular in shape—like the bite, one would say, of a leech, but a leech of an almost microscopic ldnd; for these abrasions are scarcely visible to the naked eye. Others of them are crescent-shaped; and others again are quite irregular.

The quantity of blood lost through the stigmata on a Friday varies. During the first few months after their appearance, before the ecstasies occurred, the flow was more abundant and more prolonged than at present; it often lasted twenty-four hours, from midnight to midnight; and those who first saw it estimated the quantity of blood from the nine wounds at about 1 pints (one litre). It is difficult to make a precise estimate, and this particularly because the greater part of the liquid is taken up by the linen which covers the side, and is wrapped round the hands and feet. The following is the result of my own observations on this point: When I visited Louise for the first time, on Friday, the 30th of August 1868, the duration and the amount of the flow had already diminished; the bleeding, which commenced towards mid night, ceased about four or five o’clock. in the afternoon; I counted on that day fourteen pieces of linen much soaked with blood.8 Moreover, the left foot having remained uncovered for some time during the ecstasy, the blood had flowed upon the ground, where it formed a clot the size of the two hands. I am certainly below the mark in estimating the total quantity of blood lost at 250 grammes (nearly nine ounces, being about one quarter as much as before mentioned).

I have several times seen the flow present about the same conditions as to duration and abundance; it has never to any extent exceeded this average under my own observation. At other times it has been less in quantity and less prolonged. Sometimes, though rarely, the blood dries tip and crusts towards eleven or twelve o’clock; and on two Fridays it has not appeared. On one occasion the stigmata remained quite dry; and on the other the vesicles formed as usual, but the flow was only of serous fluid slightly tinged with red. During these two Fridays the ecstasy occurred in the usual manner. At the present time the bleeding of the stigmata takes place regularly every Friday, and the bleeding crown on the forehead and the head, which at first appeared but rarely, now shows itself every week. I have carefully examined the characters of the blood; its colour is neither the crimson of arterial nor the blackish tint of venous blood; it is red inclining to violet—the colour of blood in the capillaries. Its consistence is normal; it becomes clotted on the linen and on the edges of the wound from which it flows: sometimes even it coagulates as it escapes from the capillaries, and forms on the face of the wound little incrustations, that look very like ‘proud flesh.’ I have seen doctors make this mistake. To correct it, it is enough to examine these little concretions with a lens, or to wash the wound; as the water removes them, the bleeding surface of the true skin is seen quite bare. With two of my colleagues in the Faculty of Medicine, accustomed to microscopic research, I arranged a microscope in the cottage, and we examined the blood the moment it came from the stigmata. We ascertained its characters to be these: the plasma or fluid portion is colourless and perfectly transparent; therefore it does not contain any trace of hæmatin in solution. The red corpuscles have their oval perfectly regular shape; their edges are smooth, entire, not at all in dented or curled up (framboisés). The white corpuscles Seemed to us in normal proportion, one to three or four hundred of the red.” To complete this description we must record that the stigmata are painful. The extreme reticence of Louise has not allowed me to ascertain exactly the degree and the character of the pain; but by observing her features, her position, and her movements when not in ecstasy, I have satisfied myself that she must suffer acutely.

The flow of blood ceases, as we have already said, at somewhat different hours. On the following day, Saturday, the stigmata are dry, and rather shining; here and there are seen some scales of dried blood, which soon fall off. It is unnecessary to add that there is no sign of suppuration. Louise, who on the evening before suffers much pain in using her hands and in standing, resumes very early in the morning her usual work, which she only interrupts in order to go and fulfill her religious duties at the parish church.


source : Louise Lateau of  Bois d' Haine, tr. [by E. Mackey and C.J. Bowen] ed. by J.S ... By Ferdinand J M. Lefebvre
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St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), founder of the Franciscans and one of the great saints of the Catholic Church. St. Francis was one of the first saints to receive the stigmata. St. Francis, as is common among stigmatics, was particularly interested in realizing the suffering of Christ. In his youth, he was fun loving and not particularly pious, but two brushes with death showed him the frivolity of his ways and he became extremely pious. He wanted to know the suffering of Christ. His stigmata were not bleeding, open wounds, but scars; his flesh took on the appearance of nails. In 1224, he and three others went into seclusion on the mountain La Verna. The following is the account of Brother Leo, one of the saint's companions on the mountain.

Francis was kneeling outside his hut. His prayer quivered in the silence of the night. Dawn was near. It was bitingly cold, and the stars were shining brightly in the sky. And then, as the first glimmer of light appeared in the dark, what he had lived for all his life happened. All of a sudden there was a dazzling light. It was as though the heavens were exploding and splashing forth all their glory in millions of waterfalls of colors and stars. And in the center of that bright whirlpool was a core of blinding light that flashed down from the depths of the sky with terrifying speed until suddenly it stopped, motionless and sacred, above a pointed rock in front of Francis. It was a fiery figure with wings, nailed to a cross of fire.
Two flaming wings rose straight upward, two others opened out horizontally, and two more covered the figure. And the wounds in the hands and feet and heart were blazing rays of blood. The sparkling features of the Being wore an expression of supernatural beauty and grief. It was the face of Jesus, and Jesus spoke. Then suddenly streams of fire and blood shot from His wounds and pierced the hands and feet of Francis with nails and his heart with the stab of a lance. As Francis uttered a mighty shout of joy and pain, the fiery image impressed itself into his body, as into a mirrored reflection of itself, with all its love, its beauty, and its grief. And it vanished within him. Another cry pierced the air. Then, with nails and wounds through his body, and with his soul and spirit aflame, Francis sank down, unconscious, in his blood.

source : From A Treasury of Catholic Reading, ed. John Chapin (Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 1957)
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Maria Domenica Lazzeri : Along with complete abstinence from food, drink and sleep, comes the extraordinary mystical graces. In 1835 she received the grace of the bleeding Stigmata, which was soon followed by the mystical crown of thorns. She would receive the stigmata each Thursday evening into Friday afternoon, mystically suffering for the conversion of sinners in union with the Passion of Jesus. On one occasion the crown of thorns lesions in her head were counted and there were forty penetration wounds. At times, she would also bleed through wounds in various parts of her body, resembling the scourging. And so it is that through a special grace of God she becomes a true living image of Jesus Crucified.

After documenting the stigmata on numerous Fridays, Dr. Leonardo Cloch, a physician at the primary and Military Civic Hospital in Trento, who studied the phenomenon closely, issued a report in the Annals of Universal Medicine in 1837, and then with the help of Dr. Antonio Faes of Anthony of Padua University, continued with similar reports to the Medical Department of Italian scientists meeting in Congress in Naples (1845), Genoa (1846), Venice (1847).

In his written testimony Dr. Cloch states that- “the blood often drips from the feet upward, against all laws of physics. It seems that the girl is reproducing in herself the history of the entire passion of Christ, reaching a peak of gravity every Friday afternoon, when, after a period of profuse bleeding, she seems to die, or rather, falls into a state of apparent death, but soon after she recovers completely.” The news of this extraordinary young woman who bears the wounds of Our Lord makes the rounds of the houses of Capriana and the surrounding countryside and soon arrives at Trento. Bishop Blessed Giovanni de Nepomuceno Tschiderer (died † 1860, and has been declared Blessed –editor) orders an investigation ex officio. Such extraordinary mystical graces were not new to this holy Bishop, as already two other women in his diocese are subject to mystical-physical phenomena: Maria von Moerl and Crescenzia Nierklutsch .


The fame of the young Capriana soon overcame the boundaries of Trento diocese, and spread throughout Italy and Europe. Judging the phenomenon worthy of being known, European publishers, began to print several popular works from 1836 to 1848, whose authors were often were eyewitnesses, affected both the extraordinary nature of the disease, stigma, especially of virtuous endurance of incredible suffering and the spirit of prayer lived daily by Maria Domenica.

Additionally, the story of her life attracted the attention of numerous medical specialists from all over Europe as well as bishops and archbishops, including that of Sydney in Australia along with countless laypeople. Regardless of the background of the visitors, all left her full of admiration, serenity and peace, inspired and convinced of her holiness. Many later recorded a written record of what they had witnessed. Because of her case, there was organized various cultural and religious debates of the time among both Catholic and Protestant groups in Europe and Australia. Meanwhile, Maria Domenica, continued in her bed of pain the terrible but edifying experience of Christ's Passion, both her hands and feet stacked and grouped as one nailed together, a true living image of the Crucified.


St. Clare of Montefalco (d. 1308) bore the painful stigmata of our Lord. After her death, it was revealed that the symbols of our Lord’s Passion were found etched upon her heart: a crucifix the size of one’s thumb, with the head of Christ leaning toward the right arm. Also found within her heart were images of the nails of the crucifixion, the crown of thorns, and a nerve that was in the shape of a lance.


St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380):


 Dominican nun and Doctor of the Church, received the wounds of the stigmata during a visit to Pisa in 1375. The visible wounds became hidden after Catherine prayed to Jesus that He remove them so she would not be a subject of sensationalism for others. God granted her request; however, after she died the wounds reappeared. Many witnesses saw Catherine’s stigmata when she was on her deathbed.




St. Lydwine of Schiedam (1380-1433) was one of the great victim souls in the history of the Church. She suffered innumerable afflictions, including the sacred stigmata, which she received sometime after 1407. These wounds were imparted upon Lydwine’s body after she experienced a vision of heavenly angels, who came to pierce her soul with the Passion of our Lord. Lydwine carried the stigmata for the remainder of her life.
St. Rita of Cascia 

St. Rita of Cascia (1381-1457) received a thorn wound on her forehead after hearing a sermon in 1441 on the crown of thorns. Many witnessed a mysterious light that came forth from this wound. Rita bore the stigma for the rest of her life.

Blessed Osanna of Mantua (1449-1505) was marked with the stigmata after she begged our Lord to let her share in His Passion. Her desire was to help atone for the sins of others (co-redemptive suffering). At first Osanna received the crown-of-thorn wounds; later on, the five sacred wounds appeared upon her body. Although barely visible during her life, they appeared very distinct on her body after her death.




St. Teresa of Avila
St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), Doctor of the Church and author of various mystical classics such as Autobiography (1565), The Way of Perfection (1573), and the Interior Castle (1577), received a stigma of the heart known as transverberation. This wound, which was examined in 1872 by three physicians from the University of Salamanca, was verified as a puncture of the heart.

She had a stigmatized heart (in 1559). In 1559, Teresa said: "On my left I saw an angel having a human appearance ... In his hands he held a long arrow with a small flame on its tip. I felt that the arrow plunged into my side deep into my heart, and when he pulled it out I felt that a piece of my heart was gone with it. When he left, I was filled with love to God."

            During her ecstasies, Teresa was uplifted from the ground, a phenomenon witnessed by her sisters and sometimes also by the faithful in the chapel.

             She died on October 5, 1582 in Alba. Physicians operated on her and removed the heart from her body. The precious relic remained in the convent so that everyone could see the wound inflicted on her heart. A pleasant fragrance spread from the heart.

            In the process of beatification in 1725, surgeon Emanuel Sanchéz described a hole in the upper front part of the heart which penetrated the chamber and the bulk of the heart. The shape of the hole proved that it had been pierced by an extraordinarily sharp, pointed and long tool. Signs of burning were visible in the hole.

            In 1836, Sister Paula discovered two big thorns in the heart. A third one was found in 1864, and 16 years later it reached a length of 2.5 cm. Physicians examined the relic once again in 1873 and revealed a fourth thorn which grew 2 cm long by 1880. Further five thorns were discovered by father Nemesio Cardellac in 1975. They reached 2 cm after a couple of years.


            Teresa's heart is kept in a precious case on the main altar of a Carmelite church in Alba. Thousands of visitors see a scar on it. It has been giving off a pleasant scent for 400 years. Teresa's body remained intact too.
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St. Catherine dei Ricci (1522-1590) began receiving visions of our Lord’s Passion when she turned twenty. In 1542, Catherine began to receive the wounds of the stigmata. Her wounds were nearly complete: both feet, both hands, the side, and the crown-of- thorn wounds. Every week from Thursday until 4:00 P.M. on Friday, Catherine relived the Passion of Christ. These sufferings continued for the next twelve years.

St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi (1566-1607) began receiving visions of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary before her reception of the stigmata. It is claimed that her wounds emitted the sweet odor of heaven.

St. Rose of Lima (1586-1617), a Third Order Dominican, was given the five sacred wounds from our Lord during one of her many ecstatic states. In addition, it is believed that she received the crown-of-thorn wounds a short time later. Rose never did become a nun; rather, she chose to live at home and built a private haven for herself where she could pray, suffer, and do good works for others.


St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), mystic and author of Jesus Reveals His Heart, received the invisible stigmata from the Lord as well as the crown-of-thom wounds. These facts were revealed in her Autobiography.

She entered a convent in Paray-le-Monial, France at the age of 24. There she was ordered by her prioress to maintain a diary. The diary was later studied in detail by Jesuit priest Claudius de la Colombiere (later canonized) who temporarily stayed in the convent as a confessor.

            Margarete's diary describes her discussions with Jesus, and her visions of Jesus during which he was several times accompanied by symbols of the Sacred Heart. She continued to have visions until her death. The number of her visions of Jesus's Heart is estamated at more than 30.

            On December 27, 1673 she had a vision of Jesus who told her:

            "My Divine Heart loves mankind, notably you, so passionately that it can no longer hold inside the flames of its hot gracious love and therefore it wants you to spill them around."

            Then Jesus asked Margaret to give him her heart, plunged it into his own Heart for a while and finally put her heart, seemingly ablaze, back into her chest. Margarete felt as if her heart was embraced and at the same time she could feel a wound in her flank. Then she could see the Divine Heart on a throne, all aflame, sending beams in all directions and shining more brightly than the Sun and being more transparent than a crystal. The Heart had a visible wound inflicted on the cross. The Sacred Heart was encircled with a crown of thorns and above it there was a cross.

            During a vision in June 1675, Jesus said:

            "This Heart, which loved people so much and paid no attention to itself, has got exhausted and used up to testify to its great love. Yet, most people respond with disrespect, ingratitude, blasphemy, coldness and disdain rather than with gratitude towards Me and this Sacrament of Love ... I demand that the first Friday following the octave of the Lord's Flesh was devoted to a special feast to worship my heart. On this day, people should accept the Holy Communion and ask for forgiveness in order to return My Heart the honour which has been lost due to offences incurred while I have been displayed on altars. In return I promise that my Heart will get broader and will grant the grace of the Lord's love to all those who have given this honour to my Heart and have tried to persuade others to do likewise."

             One Friday in 1687, during a Holy Communion, Jesus promised Margarete:

            "I promise by the immense grace of my Heart that my omnipotent love will lend a grace to all those who will be in communion (Holy Communion) with me on the first Fridays during nine successive months. I will stay by them till the end, and they will not die in disgrace and without the Holy Sacrament. The Lord's Heart will be their safehaven at the close of their life."

            The promises given to Margarete by the Jesus's Heart are mentioned also in the encyclical letter Haurietis aquas by Pius XII (For those who will honour Jesus's Heart):

            "I will grant them all grace needed for their status. I will bring peace to their families. I will cheer them up when they are sad. I will be their safe heaven in life, but mainly in the hour of their death. I will spill a bounty of blessings on all their events. Sinners will find grace and an endless sea of mercy in my Heart. Indifferent souls will become zealous. Zealous souls will reach perfection. I will give blesing to those houses where a picture of my Sacred Heart is displayed and worshipped. I will endow priests with the ability to convert even the most hard-headed people. The names of those engaged in spreading this grace will be written in my Heart never to be deleted."

            Sister Margaret lived long enough to see the onset of the Jesus's Heart cult. A chapel was built in their convent to honour the Lord's Heart.

            Margarete died on October 17, 1690 whispering the name of Jesus's Sacred Heart.

            After death her face became divinely beautiful and noble.

            In 1766, Pope Clement XIII authorized the Sacred Heart feast. In 1890, Pope Lev XIII recommended to celebrate the first Friday of each month. June became the month of the Sacred Heart .


            The whole city of Marseille was consecrated in 1722 when it was miraculously saved from a plague epidemic. The consecration was then repeated every year. In 1899, Lev XIII consecrated the whole mankind to Jesus's Heart and through his encyclical letter Annum sacrum he commemorated visionary Margarete Maria Alacoque. She was canonized in 1920.
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St. Veronica Giuliani (1660-1727), a Poor Clare nun, received the stigmata after her mother (Benedetta) had offered her up to the sufferings of Christ. According to one story, Benedetta was dying and entrusted each of her five daughters to one of the five sacred wounds. Veronica was entrusted to the wound below Christ’s heart. On Good Friday in 1697, when she was thirty- seven years old, Veronica received the stigmata.

Veronica survived a "plastic heart stigmatization". She confided her confessor, father Guelfi that the Lord put various signs into her heart (including a small banner with the initials J and M standing for Jesus and Maria). Upon request of her confessor, she drew these signs on a heart cut out of a sheet of paper. The confessor passed the drawing to a bishop. The bishop signed it and sealed in an envelope. Veronica died on July 9, 1727. 36 hours later, the bishop ordered her heart to be opened. The heart was removed by surgeon Prof. Francesco Gentili and physician Francesco Bordiga. The operation was witnessed by governor Torrigani, chancellor and future cardinal Fábri, Mr. Pessucci, Jacob Gellini and confessor Guelfi.


            Veronica was seen drifting in the air in ecstasy many times. One of the witnesses was father Crivelli.
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St. Mary Frances of the Five Wounds (1715-1791), member of the Order of Franciscans, received the stigmata in her hands, feet, and side. Her sufferings endured throughout the remainder of her life.

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Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824), controversial mystic and prophet from Germany, received the invisible stigmata after praying for hours before the cross in the Church of St. Lambert at Coesfeld. (At that time, Anne asked our Lord to share in His Passion as a sacrifice for the sake of her Augustinian convent.) On August 28, 1812 — the Feast of St. Augustine — Anne was given a cross-shaped wound on her breast directly above her heart. Later that year, she received the complete stigmata, which became visible at this point. A medical examination in 1813 proved that her heart wound was three inches long. This wound was unusual in that it resembled the shape of a cross. The examinations went on for some five months. Doctors verified that real wounds did indeed appear on Anne’s hands, feet, and side.

 She could tell consecrated objects from unconsecrated ones. In her visions she saw the Lord's Passion. She was famous thanks to her fast.

            General vicar of the Münster diocese Klemens August ordered a church investigation. He appointed a commission composed of physicians and church dignitaries. Catherine was examined by a fast, with no food whatsoever. She was rigorously watched by 31 people between June 9 and 19, 1813. Two persons were always in her presence by day and night. In a protocol they testified under oath that Catherine had eaten or drunk nothing at that time. The wounds, however, continued to bleed.


            In 1819, the government authorities stepped in. They launched a brutal police investigation aimed to prove that Catherine was cheating. The investigation commission consisted of head of the state regional board, a physician of the state board, four physicians - experts, two Protestants and a high-ranking freemason dignitary. Catherine was relocated by force to a new house. There she was under constant scrutiny which lasted for 3 weeks. Yet, Dr. Zumbrink, in the name of the commission's physicians, reported to head of the commission that it was no fraud, nor lie.
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St. Gemma Galgani
St. Gemma Galgani (1878-1903) received the sacred stigmata on June 8, 1899. At this time, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her along with her Son, Jesus. Gemma saw flames of fire issuing forth from our Lord’s wounds, which suddenly appeared on her own body in the exact locations as the wounds of Christ. Not wanting to become a showpiece for others, Gemma asked our Lord to remove the visible wounds. Her request was granted. However, she did not really lose her wounds at all; rather, they became invisible and lasted for the next three years until her death.

Sister Josefa Menéndez (1890-1923), Coadjutrix Sister of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and author of The Way of Divine Love, received all the wounds of the stigmata over the last few years of her life. Jesus had chosen Josefa to be a victim soul for the sins of the world.

Marie-Rose Ferron (1902-1936), the first recognized (though controversial) stigmatic from the United States, was given the sacred wounds of Christ beginning in 1927. At that time, she first experienced the scourge marks. A few days later, the wounds on her hands appeared. By October of 1927, “Little Rose” received the foot wounds, and in November her heart became pierced. In January of 1928, Rose was given the crown-of-thorn wounds to complete her Passion. These wounds had been examined by many competent doctors throughout the course of her life. 

Rose also had the shoulder stigma. It was not a scar as the stigmata of the hands were, but rather a red blotch that pained her much more than it seemed. She also had another stigma next to that of the shoulder, on the lower part of the neck. She had a lot of sufferings but she often mentioned the shoulder wound.

A number of photographs reveal Rose’s wounds; especially vivid is a cord. Like mark that wraps around Rose’s forehead. Father Boyer tells us: “Rose had a wound on the forehead; it measured 1 1/4 cm wide. It started near the hair line and ran down to the top of the nose dividing the forehead in two equal parts. This wound remained with Rose till the end.” A number of testimonies stress the fact that Rose often brought down her headdress in an attempt to hide the stigma that always wept a sort of serum.

Considered a controversial figure — partly because her bishop at the time was dubious of any extraordinary gifts or signs — her cause of canonization has never been officially introduced, although it has gathered great momentum in the past decade. Hundreds of testimonies have been written in support of Rose’s authenticity, and current efforts to revive her cause are under way.

Sister Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, was given the stigmata in April of 1936. Although invisible, the wounds would remain with Faustina the rest of her relatively short life. This pious mystic is known for her brilliant spiritual work entitled Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary.

Berthe Petit (1870-1943) of Belgium was a Third Order Franciscan. This victim soul received the wounds of Christ beginning on December 29, 1930. Except for occasional moments, Berthe’s wounds remained invisible.

Alexandrina da Costa (1904-1955), from Balasar in Portugal, became bedridden after she jumped from her bedroom window while trying to escape a rapist’s attack, When she was 12. The rough man accompanied with two villains broke into her house. They smashed down the door. Alexandra jumped out of a window from a height of 4 m. The jump ended in a disaster as she injured her spine. At the age of 19, her state worsened and she remained confined to bed ever since.

            Don Umberto Pasquale found the man who had attempted to rape her.

            With tears in his eyes the would-be raper said: "She is a saint. I'm to blame for her injury."

            Alexandra later became stigmatized.

            From 1942 onwards she ate nothing at all.

            A medical report reads : "We, the undersigned Dr. Carlos Alberto de Lima, professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Oporto and Manuel Augusto Dias de Azevedo, both of us physicians at this faculty, testify that we have examined Alexandra Maria da Costa ... We confirm that she stayed in the children's hospital near the mouth of the Douro River between June 10 and 20, 1943. The examination was led by Dr. Goméz de Aranjo. She was watched by selected and reliable staff round-the clock for 40 days. Over this period she ate neither solid, nor liquid food. Despite the absence of any food, the weight, temperature, breathing, blood pressure, heartbeat, blood and mental abilities of the examined person were normal."

            Alexandra gradually lost sight. She came to accept the fact that she would live in almost constant darkness. She passed away on October 13, 1955 and was later beatified by Pope John Paul II.

            Alexandra ate and drank nothing for 12 years.
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Therese Neumann (1898- 1962) of Konnersreuth, Bavaria, Germany, was one of the most gifted mystical souls in the history of the Church. During Lent in 1926, Therese received the sacred stigmata. These wounds would last until her death in 1962: a total of


thirty-six years, which is one of the longest time periods that anyone has ever borne the stigmata (Padre Pio holds the record — fifty years!). Therese’s stigmata was one of the most complete among stigmatics as well. Besides the five sacred wounds, she bore eight to nine crown-of-thorn wounds (beginning on November 5, 1926), the shoulder wound (March, 1929), the flagellation marks (Good Friday, 1929), and even shed tears of blood frequently. Examinations proved that there were 45 distinguishable marks of the Passion on Therese’s body: 2 foot wounds, 2 hand wounds, 1 wound near the heart, 30 scourge marks, 1 shoulder wound, and 9 circular head wounds. Bedridden for a good portion of her life, Therese relived her Passion ecstasies on a weekly basis from Thursdays to Fridays. This occurred on an average of half the weeks throughout each year. It has been estimated that she suffered the entire Passion mystery some seven hundred fifty times’


Padre Pio
Padre Pio of Pietrelcina (1887-1968), who lived at Our Lady of Grace Friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, near Foggia, Italy, for over fifty years, is known for a remarkable distinction unique in the history of the Church: This Franciscan friar bore the five sacred wounds of Christ for over half a century — from September 20, 1918, until his death on September 23, 1968! Nobody in Church history even comes close to this record. (The lay Franciscan stigmatic Therese Neumann probably holds that distinction for women: thirty-six years.) Miraculously, Padre Pio’s wounds completely disappeared the last few days of his life. It was as if God had taken away his wounds because his mission had finally ended. Perhaps the disappearance of the wounds was also another extraordinary sign from God that they were genuine.

Details of first investigation into Padre Pio’s stigmata revealed :

Rome, Italy, Sep 22, 2008 / 12:39 pm (CNA).- In an article published by the L’Osservatore Romano, Francesco Castelli, a biographer of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, has revealed details of the first investigation in 1921 by the Holy Office—now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—into the life of the Italian priest and the authenticity of his stigmata.

Castelli explained that the recent opening of the archives that contain the information on the first investigations show that it is not true that the Holy Office was suspicious of Padre Pio, but rather that there was admiration and appreciation for him.

In 1921, the Holy Office charged Bishop Carlo Raffaello Rossi, who would later be made cardinal, with visiting Padre Pio to investigate his life and the origin of his stigmata. In his report, Bishop Rossi wrote that Padre Pio “held his head high and was serene, his look lively and sweet, his words gleamed with kindness and sincerity.”

The task that began on June 14 of that year lasted for eight days, during which Bishop Rossi observed Padre Pio in detail. He wrote that he was very gentle with his brothers, beloved by his superiors for being a “great example and not a gossiper.”  He spent 10-12 hours a day in the confessional and he celebrated the Mass with “extraordinary devotion.”

Bishop Rossi said the observations were not sufficient and he decided to interview Padre Pio, who responded to 142 questions under oath with his hand on the Gospels. Castelli says his answers almost constituted a complete biography.

Questions such as, “Who gave you the stigmata? For what reason? Were you given a specific mission?” were answered serenely by the Italian saint in the following manner:

“On September 20, 1918 after celebrating Mass, while I was giving thanks in the Choir, I was repeatedly overcome by trembling. Later I became calm again and I saw our Lord as if He were on the cross—but I did not see if He did have a cross—lamenting the lack of response from mankind, especially from those consecrated to Him who are His favorites. He was showing that He was suffering and that He desired to unite souls to His Passion. He invited me to enter into His sufferings and to mediate upon them: and at the same time to concern myself with the health of the brothers. Immediately I felt full of compassion for the sufferings of the Lord and I asked Him what I could do. I heard this voice: ‘I unite you to my Passion’. And immediately, the vision having disappeared, I came to and I saw these signs from which blood was flowing.  I did not have them before.”

Castelli said Bishop Rossi went even further. He asked to examine the wounds and as he did so he asked Padre Pio about them.  He saw that the wound in his side “changed aspects frequently and at that moment was in the shape of a triangle, never before seen. Regarding the wounds of Padre Pio, he gave me precise and detailed answers explaining in addition that the wounds in his feet and side had a sort of radiant aspect.”

Bishop Rossi concluded that the wounds were not “the work of the devil” nor were they the result of “deceit, fraud or a malicious or evil ability.  Much less were they the result of external suggestion, nor do I consider them to be the result of suggestion.”  The distinctive elements “of true stigmata were found in those of Padre Pio,” he added.  Other details such as his high fevers and perfume-like scents confirmed the veracity of the phenomenon.

Castelli said the first thing that emerges from these investigations is that the “feared Roman dicastery was not, in these circumstances, an enemy of Padre Pio, but rather the complete opposite! Bishop Rossi showed himself to be an absolute inquisitor but he was also a mature man of true valor, devoid of unjustified harshness towards the one he was questioning.”

Thanks to these investigations, the former Holy Office possesses a history of Padre Pio written by his “spiritual father, Benedetto, a document extremely rich in information that up to now had been almost completely ignored.”

Upon writing that after 1939 there is no clear way to tell what happened to the Capuchin friar who died on September 22, 1968, Castelli recalled how Bishop Rossi would remember the saint in his own words: “Padre Pio is a good and exemplary religious, trained in the practice of virtue, given over to piety and perhaps elevated in degrees of prayer that go beyond the external, resplendent in particular with a profound humility and singular simplicity that have never wavered even in the most difficult of times, in which these virtues have been tried in a serious and dangerous way.”


Francesco Castelli is professor of History of the Contemporary Church at the Romano Guardini Institute of Religious Science and Director of the Historical Archives of the Diocese of Taranto.
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Marthe Robin (1902-1981), a Third Order Franciscan from France, received the sacred stigmata on October 4, 1930, after years of suffering for others. Marthe also received the crown-of- thorn wounds. Her Passion ecstasies — like those of most of the authentic stigmatics — occurred every week from Thursday through Friday.
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Passitea of Siena (1564 - 1615) : Passitea was visibly stigmatized. On Good Friday in 1593, however, she received also invisible stigmata in her heart during a "mystical reunion". She said that her heart had been removed in the process.

             After she died, the bishop of Siena, a very rigorous critic, asked several physicians to perform an autopsy on her in order to verify the actual state of the affairs. The autopsy found that the heart had only the outer wall with a piece of dried muscle inside. Passitea lived for 23 years after the vision.


            An exhumation in 1657 revealed that Passitea's body was intact.


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Marie-Julie Jahenny (1850—1941) was a French peasant girl who first developed stigmata in 1873. at the age of twenty-three. She showed an amazing variety of wounds. They included not only the classic five wounds, but also 

(I) a crown of thorns; 
(2) an imprint on her left shoulder: 
(3) marks on her wrists: 
(4) an emblematic pattern in from of her heart: 
(5) stripes on her arms. legs. and side; 
(6) a stigmatic ring on the fourth linger oilier right hand; 
(7) Various inscriptions on the breast; and 
(8) in 1875, the words ‘O Crux ave with a cross and a flower. Furthermore, it was said that while in a state of trance, those around her reported that she exuded an “incomparable fragrance” from her body.

Jahenny is said to have exhibited her token of espousal for over 20 years. Unlike Fenouil’s
case, multiple witnesses observed the process of Jahenny’s stigmatic ring information.’’ However, Jahenny showed a keen interest in expressing her witnesses, as well as a lack of the modesty and humility typically exhibited by stigmatics. As Herbert ’Thurston dryly noted, there are elements to her story that do not inspire confidence in her genuineness) Certainly, a desire for attention provides powerful unconscious motivation for human MMI.