Stigmata Essay, Research Paper
Is it really possible for stigmata to occur? Stigmata: A biblical phenomenon when people mysteriously receive the crucifixion wounds of Christ. This stigma has an unexplainable concept that has always baffled both religious and scientific studies. There have been a number of stigmatics that have become famous religious icons. A lot of people question the authenticity of stigmatics because there is not a scientific explanation.
Stigmata is the Greek word for puncture wound. Basically, to experience a stigmata, one must be really close to God. There are many different kinds of stigmatics. Usually the wounds are located both in the hands or wrist and through the feet. These wounds can make their first appearance at any time in the stigmatic’s life. The wounds can be merely visible to human eye to an Eisenhower silver dollar. Some wounds completely puncture the hand or feet, and some partially puncture the limb. It has been recorded that Padre Pio, an Italian priest, had the stigmata and bled two cups of blood a day yet was perfectly healthy. His case is somewhat rare because he bled at a greater amount of blood and more often than any other stigmatic. Some bleed from their wounds only on Good Friday, and some bleed every Friday. Most interesting to note is that a stigmatic’s wound will never get infected and they never get sick from experiencing blood loss.
Most of the stigmatics receive special gifts, like they are demigods. One of the gifts or powers is called “agility,” the ability to move rapidly or instantaneously across long distances.” Another one of these powers is the ability to “bilocate,” being at two places at once, or giving the appearance of doing so.” Also some stigmatics have “mystic insomnia,” which is never sleeping, and “efficiency,” being able to accomplish multiple workloads at once. And finally, there is a power called “inedia,” these people can go without eating or only eating a wafer a week. This seems like it would be easy to fake but there are tests that can easily screen for fraudulence. A blood panel can tell the difference. For example, blood that is taken from a false inediac shows normal levels of salts and constitutes, on the other hand a true inediacs blood panel will show a person that has not eaten in a long while. And in addition to all the above, somehow they have superincumbent energy levels.
Stigmatics have been known to show up around times of war. High religious officials of the Catholic Church say that the reason they appear around a time of war is because a stigmata is suppose to serve as a “forceful reminder of the seriousness of sin.” Padre Pio was alive during W.W.I., W.W.II. , The Korean War, and the Vietnam Conflict. During those times of war his wounds bled profusely.
There is a dispute between who was the first known stigmatist. Some people say it is St. Paul, and others say it is St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis of Assisi first noticed the wounds in 1224. St. Francis was, at that time, a retired priest. St. Francis and three of his church companions went on a journey to La Verna, which was a mountain where St. Christopher lived. On the way to La Verna, four more men joined St. Francis. St. Francis went there because he knew he was going to die. He moved in to the little hut and told his followers to go to the bottom of the mountain, with the exception of one so he could bring Francis food and water. St. Francis was isolated and in constant prayer. His followers had in fact been spying on him and St. Francis knew it but he carried on anyway. On the day of St. Francis’s death, his followers said that a fiery image of Jesus on the crucifix emerged and shot fire nails into his wrists and feet. St. Francis collapsed to the ground and died.
Padre Pio was an Italian priest who was very involved in the Catholic Church. He would hold such extraordinary masses that Catholics from all over Italy would come to hear. In late October in 1918 (during the W.W.I. era) he received the stigmata for the first time. He was observing a Mass and he said the experience was quite disturbing. He reported that all of a sudden, he saw an older man that had the stigmata; Padre Pio’s body became paralyzed and his heart rate skyrocketed. Then the vision was gone and he noticed that his own hands and feet started to ache; he looked down and sure enough hands and feet were bleeding. The bleeding continued every day for the rest of his life. On an average day, he would lose two cups a day. If any person lost two cups of a blood a day they would have serious health problems. Not Padre Pio; he was as healthy as he had ever been. His wounds had never been infected. He lived till the year of 1968, so there have been photographs taken showing his condition.
Therese Neumann also had the stigmata. She lived in the times of Nazi Germany. Her wounds bled almost once a week. And she had constant nightmares about the brutal mistreatment of the Jews during W.W.II.
To this day there is not a scientific explanation for stigmata. Until there is there will always be skeptical people. Skeptics can say that the wounds are self-inflicted and are performed by religious fanatics and mentally unbalanced people. Some of these cases of stigmata are probably false. There are all kinds of religious fanatics that misunderstand the holy concept of stigmata and would self inflict these wounds for attention, and simply because they do not have anything better to do with their time.
A lot of respected authors do not accept stigmata as a real concept. The American Heritage Dictionary does not appear to believe in stigmata; in fact they make it sound like a schizophrenic idea. The dictionary defines stigmata as, “Marks or sores corresponding to and resembling the crucifixion wounds of Jesus, sometimes occurring during religious ecstasy or hysteria.” Interestingly, the American Heritage Dictionary defines hysteria as, “1. A neurosis characterized by traumatic symptoms, a calm mental attitude, and episodes of hallautionations, somnambulism, amnesia, and other mental aberrations. 2. Excessive or uncontrollable emotions, such as fear or panic. They make it sound like a mental illness. This definition of hysteria appears to contradict the definition of stigmata.
Some critics of stigmata ask why the stigmatics do not come forward to get fame and recognition? St. Catherine was a stigmatic who prayed daily to have the wounds close up or shrink because of all the attention it was calling to her. St. Catherine said, “genuine mystics do not like the attention; we put up with it but we never seek the limelight.” An assumption can be made that some with a holy power such as stigmatics would be very close to God and not want the attention.
Are stigmatas real? Some say yes and some say no. Stigmatas will likely not be proven one way or the other. Still, science and religion can’t really explain why the stigmata’s occur, but religion has some ideas why they show up. Until there is proof, there will always be a level of doubt. There are pictures available of Padre Pio, but nowadays with the technology you can not be certain whether a picture has been altered. In regards to solving this mystery, the best anyone can hope for is a stigmatic to come out and show the world their wounds.