Stigmata Essay, Research Paper
What are stigmata and can it occur to anyone? Can it happen to you or someone you know? When does it happen? Is this phenomenon true or just another hoax? What happens to someone who is considered a stigmatic? What exactly is a stigmatic?
Stigmata is the spontaneous duplicated wounds that Christ received during crucifixion (Nickell, 219). The wounds that one receives are the wounds that resemble the wounds Jesus Christ suffered in crucifixion. The wounds of Stigmata are presumable inflicted by a supernatural force (Microsoft Encarta).
There are two types of Stigmata: visible and invisible. The invisible are wounds that the victim can feel torturing them; but no one can see them. Visible stigmata are wounds that can be seen by others (Freze, 35). The wounds that one receives can be of the hands (or wrists), feet, forehead, back, side, and shoulder. The most common of the wounds for one to receive are the wounds of the hands or wrists. The wounds of the feet, forehead, and the side are less common. Some stigmatics have also claimed that their heart has been “wounded” or it has formed into a mystical, Christian object such as a cross (Nickell, 219).
Some “brides of Christ” have reported to have a ring inexplicably appear or form on their ring finger or the forefinger (Nickell, 219). Some stigmatics have reported to have a ring given to them from Lord as a sign of their spiritual marriage with him. Some “brides” have said that they could see the ring, but no one else could see what they were explaining. The “brides” described their rings as a golden band with a diamond or two (Freze, 52). The rings they were explaining were like engagement rings we see in jewelry stores. The ring may be completely invisible to others, or they may be able to see the reddening of the skin (Freze, 52). In most cases, the “ring” is a thickening and reddening of the skin. The skin will take the shape of a wedding band (Nickell, 219).
The wounds of people who receive stigmata vary. Some wounds of the side could be on the right or left side. Some wounds could happen in the palms or wrists. The shape of the wounds varies a great deal also. The wounds could be punctures that are round, straight, a crescent- shape, or a cross-shaped (Source 4). The wounds can be a reddening of the skin, a bloody knob (as if it is a bumpy scar) or, deep wounds that you can see through (Nickell, 220: Freze). Freze says that some stigmata victims claim that a wound is cutting into their heart. Some of the wounds on the heart can be images of the cross, crown of thorns, nails of the crucifixion, or nerves that are in the shape of the lance (37). St. Clare of Montefalco was a stigmata victim that had symbols of the Lord’s passion etched right into her heart. She had the head of Christ, a crucifix, nails of crucifixion, the crown of thorns etched into her heart, and her nerves were in the shape of the lance (Freze, 37). Although, the location of the wounds vary a great deal; unfortunately, there is not any scientific reason that predicts what shape the wounds are going to take (Nickell, 219). Although, there are some studies that have shown wounds duplicate by the cross the victims pray upon and the wounds Jesus Christ is showing on the cross. If Christ is hanging from his hands, then the person will probably have wounds of their hands (Stigmata). The openings of the wounds could appear in just one area of the body or in several areas of the body at the same time.
The wounds of stigmata have said to do many different things. These wounds have been known to give off aromas of sweet perfumes or flower fragrances (source, 3). It has been said that even after the stigmatic is deceased, the sweet aromas will linger in their rooms and even over their gravesite (Freze, 53). It seems that the scent can come from the wounds or can be as if a perfume spray is all over their body. Sometimes a glowing of a light has been said to illuminate around the stigmata’s wounds (Freze, 44). The amount of blood that pours from these wounds also varies. Many people have the wounds duplicated on a weekly basis. The time span is usually Friday to Thursday (Freze, 35-42). Then stigmata victims can bleed up to one 12 cups of blood a day (Source 4). Some stigmata victims have not bled any, they merely have bloody sweats (source, 3). Dr. Lefebvre, a professor of medicine at Louvain, said that the cases that he examines. The secretion of the liquid is not blood. A red liquid does not form at a wound is a secretion of the pores when the pores dilate. He said that the sweats could come from the stigmatic being in their state of ecstasy or in high states of emotion. Dr. Lefebvre describes the sweat as if you were to have a piece of red candy in your mouth (Source, 3).
Who does this happen to? Nickell says this happens to Christians more so than any other person or group of people (219). There have been roughly 321 cases in total; 62 saints, and there were 20 stigmata victims in the nineteenth century (Source 3). Major non-Christian religions do not claim to receive wounds that mystically appear upon one without instruments, wounds produced by suggestion or by actions for or from God. Stigmata do not exist in both major separated branches of Christianity and even the Christians who do take full acceptance of crucifixion of Christ. The wounds of Stigmata can happen to women as well as men (Source 3).
So do stigmatics just bore the wounds of Christ, or are they capable of other supernatural experiences and do they have side effects of having Stigmata? Freze says that stigmatics from the past have been capable of bilocation, have guardian angels who visit them on a regular basis, or are capable to bring the dead back to life. Is it true or just another hoax? Freze says that many victims of Stigmata also claim that they can see the happenings of events of the past (35-42). Some examples are that victims of stigmata claim that they can see as if they were present at the crucifixion of Christ. They claim to see purgatory, hell, or even heaven (Freze). In history, many stigmatics claim to be capable of one or all these experiences. Some side effects that people with stigmata have are the inability to sleep visions that may be comforting or horrific. Ecstatic visions of the life and Passion of Christ, inedias. Freze calls these Supernatural gifts (222).
The first known authentic stigmatic in Church history was St. Francis of Assisi. There may have been others before him though. He was the founder of the Franciscan Order. St. Francis of Assisi first bore the wounds in 1224. He first experienced stigmata when he and some of his “disciples” went to Mount Alverno in the Apennines (Source 3). On September 14th, after forty days of fasting, he had a vision. As described in an earlier work of Francis’s sayings and acts:
“He began to contemplate the passion of Christ and
his ferver grew so strong within him that he became
wholly transformed into Jesus through love and
compassion and on this same morning, while he
was thus inflamed by his contemplation, he saw a
seraph with six shining, fiery wings descending from
heaven. This seraph drew near to St. Francis in swift
flight so that he could see him clearly and recognize
that he had the face of a man crucified “(Freze,220).
As Saint Francis gawked on him a great fear filled him and at the same time with great joy, sorrow, and wonder. He felt the great joy at the sight of Christ, who appeared to him so familiarly and looked on him so kindly; but seeing him nailed to the cross, he felt infinite sorrow and compassion. Then after a long image and imprint of the Passion of Christ. Wounds began to appear on Saint Francis as he had seen them on the body of Jesus crucified. Saint Francis followed the church very close and wanted to be so close to God that he tried to imitate Christ. He had a feeling of ecstasy when he received the wounds because he was able to share the wounds that Christ received and (Nickell, 220). His wounds stayed with him until he died on October 3, 1226.
Marie-Rose Ferron was the first identified stigmata victim from the United States (Freze 237). Her wounds began to appear in 1927. Her wounds progressed to all five in less than a year. She had the ability to see visions of Christ, claimed to be able to bilocate, and her wounds poured blood on a daily basis.
There have been cases of fake stigmata. People wanting to be closer to God, they inflict these wounds upon themselves. Some perform this fake stigmata because they are yearning to be closer to God or they fear they will die a sinner. They have used knives, picks, or has some mental illness (Nickell, 221). Many fake stigmatics will beat themselves up, whipping, thorning, and carving religions words and images into their flesh (Nickell, 222: Source 3). Nickell says that some mentally ill, hysteria, self-hypnotic suggestion, and nervous conditions have caused people to get reddening, broken, and the wounds sometimes bleed. The thirteenth century was the first recorded stigmata and soon after Saint Francis’ phenomenon, people started having resemblances of stigmata. There has not been a break in the phenomenon since (Nickell, 223).
There are certain feelings that stigmata victims describe. Stigmatics usually describe their experiences as “divine or mystical”. A feeling of sadness, depression, weakness, and physical pain are feelings that the person reports having felt before the onset of the wounds. Some stigmata victims feel as if their brain is inducing these wounds; but this case is rare (Source 4). The blood of the wounds may be of a different type than their own (Source 3).
So is this fict or fact? Science can not prove this because no one can reproduce this happening. Researchers have tried hypnosis to attempt the formation of Stigmata. The best explanation that many can give for this happening is that it is a hoax (Source 3). Researchers do not even know if Saint Francis’s stigmata are true. He could have brought the wounds on himself (Nickell, 225). “Nonetheless, stigmata are a fact, and remain a genuine mystery; the flesh really does change, and the repeated accompaniments to the phenomenon my have a great deal to teach us” (Source 4).
So are Stigmata true or just individuals longing to be close to God? Will science ever be able to tell us anything about this happening? Stigmata can happen to anyone and it could happen to you!
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Freze, Michael S.F.O, (1993). Voices, Vision, and Apparitions. Hunnington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division.