What is Stigmata?
Stigmata are wounds that resemble the wounds that Jesus Christ suffered at his crucifixion that spontaneously manifests on a person’s hands, feet, forehead, back or side. These wounds or stigmata are classified as a divine or mystical experience.
There are two kinds of Stigmata, the first is where the wounds are visible such as on the hands, feet, side or brow these are called the marks of the Passion of Christ and the person that have this stigmata also has intense suffering, this is known as visible stigmata. Healing is usually reported in a few hours after the wounds appear. Another kind of Stigmata is where the person has on the sufferings of the Passion of Christ and no outward marks are seen, this is called the invisible stigmata.
A few of the stigmata sufferers report a feeling of sadness, depression, weakness and a lot of physical pain just prior to the onset of bleeding. The blood will pour freely from the openings in the body, it can be in just one are of the body or in several areas of the body, the blood can be a different type from the person who is going through this phenomenon. Stigmata can happen to a woman as well as to men. Many skeptics believe that stigmata can be psychologically induced, which is rarely the case. There has not been any documented proof that the imagination could produce these stigmata’s marks especially in violent forms as these. Another skeptic explanation for these marks is that the person produces the wounds fraudulently or unconsciously. But in cases of stigmata physicians have taken measure to avoid these sources of error. The church has proceeded investigating allegations of stigmata with great strictness. The person experiencing the stigmata has been watched night and day to make sure that they are not causing the wounds themselves.
There are many well-documented cases of stigmata throughout history. St. Catherine of Siena had first the visible stigmata but through humility she asked that they might be made invisible and her prayers were heard. The first mentioned stigmata is St. Francis of Assisi in his wound on his feet and hands were pieces of skin that on one side resembled round back heads of a nail and on the other side these pieces of skin looked like long points of a nail that bent back and grasped the skin.
There are three circumstances presented in the stigmata of the saints. Physicians cannot succeed in curing these wounds with remedies of any kind. These wounds do not give off a putrid odor. Rather, they give off a perfume odor, as in St. Padre` Pio.