The Religious and Psychological Implications of Stigmata

Carol RoachStarred Page By Carol Roach, 8th Jul 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Religion

Stigmata is a religious concept accepted by the Roman Catholic Church. When people suddenly acquire wounds on the body to resemble the wounds of Christ after the crucifixion they are said to be stigmatic.


Stigmata is usually associated with the wounds that Christ received at the time of his crucifixion and now suddenly appear upon human beings. There are about 350 cases reported in the last 700 years, including one case of a Montreal woman, Georgette Fanel, who just died in 2002. Georgette Fanel, was also said to have seen the Virgin Mary and visited Medjugorje, a small town in Bosnia-Hercegovina where six people were reported to have seen visions of the Virgin Mary as well.

Where does the word Stigmata come from?

Stigmata is a Greek word meaning mark or brand to identify animals and slaves. A person who shows these stigmata wounds or marks is called a stigmatic.

Stigmata as religious phenomena

Stigmata, was a great movie starring Patricia Arquette illustrating the religious importance of stigmata. Stigmata also known as the Five Wounds and The Sacred Wounds of our Lord represents the wounds that Jesus experienced leading to and during the crucifixion.

These stigmata wounds are very important to the Roman Catholic Church. There have been documented cases of humans experiencing all or some of these wounds, hence the reason for the movie that bears the same name.

Biblical reference to Stigmata

Galatians 6:17 - ""I bear on my body the stígmata of Jesus." Paul told that he bore the stigmata (brand of Christ) in his letter to the Galatians.

Stigmata Wounds

The Stigmata wounds include:

Wounds on the head where Christ bore the crown of thorns or tears of blood or sweating blood
Wounds on the hands and feet (from the nails when pounded into the skins)
Wounds on the shoulder from the weight of the cross
Wounds to the side from the piercing of the sword
Wounds to the back from the flaying he took prior to the crucifixion

Note: Some stigmatics claim to be experiencing pain from the wound sites but there are no visible sign to verify the existence of the stigmata.

However, the wounds at sites that are visible are said to remain fresh and free from infection. They are also said to give off a pleasant odour called the odour of sanctity, a flowery smell often associated with saints.

The Origin of Stigmata

The origin of Stigmata emphasized in the Roman Catholic Church

After the great division of the Orthodox and early Roman Catholic church, the early Roman Catholic Church took great interest in the Crucifixion and the body of Christ - "Corpus Christi". Later various religious people claimed to have the stigmata starting with Saint Francis of Assisi, the famous Mystic of the middle ages. Saint Francis of Assisi was the first reported stigmatic after Saint Paul.

Note: This is the Roman Catholic version that Saint Paul was a stigmatic, not necessarily the Protestant view.

In 1224, two years before his death, Saint Francis of Assisi took a trip to Mount Alverna and it was here, on his religious journey that he came upon a crucified angel. After the departure of the Angel, St. Francis of Assisi noticed he had the stigmata in his hands, feet, and side. The wound in his side would bleed and soil his clothing.

The Religious Men and Women who have experienced the Stigmata

Like St. Paul and St. Francis Assisi, stigmata seem to afflict or are bestowed upon very devout religion people.

St. Frances of Rome (1384-1440) - A devoted loving wife and stigmatic, formed a woman's ministry for the poor in Rome.

St. Colette (1380-1447) - Was a stigmatic of the order of the Cupuchins of the Poor Clares. St Colette reformed several monasteries.

St. Rita of Cassia (1386-1456) A devoted wife and stigmatic, became a widow and joined the Augustian Convent.

St. Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510), A stigmatic, received revelations from God

Baptista Varani (1458-1524), from the order the Cupuchins of the Poor Clares, was one of the most accomplished scholars of the time.

All photos taken from the public domain

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Crucifixion, St Francis Of Assissi, Stigmata, Stigmatics, The Crucifixion Of Christ, Wounds Of Christ

Meet the author

author avatar Carol Roach
Retired therapist and author of two books, freelance writer, newsletter editor, and blogger. I write, health, mental health, women's issues, animal , celebrity, history, and SEO articles.

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author avatar brendamarie
9th Jul 2015 (#)

Carol, very interesting article. I now know the meaning of Stigmata.

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author avatar spirited
9th Jul 2015 (#)

I suppose this is some type of a verification of something.

I wonder if it is more important to the observers, or to the one undergoing it.

And I wonder what causes it to happen.

The Saint Francis case was intriguing, and I didn't know that verse from Saint Paul either.

thanks Carol.

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