Stigmata

Stigmata (singular stigma) are bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ, such as the hands and feet. In some cases, rope marks on the wrists have accompanied the wounds on the hands.

The term originates from the line at the end of Saint Paul's Letter to the Galatians where he says, "I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." Stigmata is the plural of the Greek word στίγμα stigma, meaning a mark, tattoo, or brand such as might have been used for identification of an animal or slave. An individual bearing stigmata is referred to as a stigmatic or a stigmatist.

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 Padre Pio of Pietrelcina of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin reported stigmata which were studied by several 20th century physicians, whose independence from the Church is not known. The observations were reportedly unexplainable and the wounds never became infected.

A high percentage (perhaps over 80%) of all stigmatics are women. In his Stigmata: A Medieval Phenomenon in a Modern Age, Edward Harrison suggests that there is no single mechanism whereby the marks of stigmata were produced.

Read more about Stigmata:  Description, Scientific Research, Non-Christian Stigmata, Notable Stigmatics

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