Stig it to Me
Stigmata are primarily associated with the Roman Catholic faith. Many reported stigmatics are members of Catholic religious orders. St. Francis of Assisi was the first recorded stigmatic in Christian history. For over fifty years, St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin reported stigmata which were studied by several 20th-century physicians.
A high percentage (perhaps over 80%) of all stigmatics are women. In his Stigmata: A Medieval Phenomenon in a Modern Age, Ted Harrison suggests that there is no single mechanism whereby the marks of stigmata were produced. There have been many cases of fraudulent stigmata.
Yeah. Creepy Right?
Reported cases of stigmata take various forms. Many show some or all of 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. Stigmata as crown of thorns appearing in the 20th century, e.g. on Marie Rose Ferron, have been repeatedly photographed. Other reported forms include tears of blood or sweating blood, and wounds to the back as from scourging.
Many stigmata show recurring bleeding that stops and then starts, at times after receiving Holy Communion, and a large percentage of stigmatics have shown a high desire to receive Holy Communion frequently. A relatively high percentage of stigmatics also exhibit inedia, claiming to live with minimal (or no) food or water for long periods of time, except for the Holy Eucharist. Some exhibit weight loss, and closer investigation often reveals evidence of fakery.
Some stigmatics claim to feel the pain of wounds with no external marks; these are referred to as "invisible stigmata". Some stigmatics' wounds do not appear to clot, and seem to 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, overwhelmed with emotions upon receiving the stigmata. No case of stigmata is known to have occurred before the thirteenth century.
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.
So there you have it. Stigmata. Some of you may be wondering why this made it in Creepy Month. Well, think about it. If this is actually true, then a being that we can't explain is most likely behind stigmata, and to prove his existence, he manifests his own "injuries" onto a human host. Creepy. On the other hand if the whole thing is just a hoax, then the mere fact that someone injured themselves, and made everyone believe that their deity is speaking through them. Pretty creepy to me, anyways. this ends this installment of Creepy Month.
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