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To decide merely the facts without deciding whether or not they may be explained by supernatural causes, history tells us that many ecstatics bear on hands, feet, side, or brow the marks of the Passion of Christ with corresponding and intense sufferings. These are called visible stigmata. Others only have the sufferings, without any outward marks, and these phenomena are called invisible stigmata.
Their existence is so well established historically that, as a general thing, they are no longer disputed by unbelievers, who now seek only to explain them naturally. Thus a free-thinking physician, Dr. Dumas, professor of religious psychology at the Sorbonne, clearly admits the facts (Revue des Deux Mondes, 1 May, 1907), as does also Dr. Pierre Janet (Bulletin de l'Institut psychologique international, Paris, July, 1901).
St. Catherine of Siena at first had visible stigmata but through humility she asked that they might be made invisible, and her prayer was heard. This was also the case with St. Catherine de' Ricci, a Florentine Dominican of the sixteenth century, and with several other stigmatics. The sufferings may be considered the essential part of visible stigmata; the substance of this grace consists of pity for Christ, participation in His sufferings, sorrows, and for the same end--the expiation of the sins unceasingly committed in the world. If the sufferings were absent, the wounds would be but an empty symbol, theatrical representation, conducing to pride. If the stigmata really come from God, it would be unworthy of His wisdom to participate in such futility, and to do so by a miracle.
But this trial is far from being the only one which the saints have to endure: "The life of stigmatics," says Dr. Imbert, "is but a long series of sorrows which arise from the Divine malady of the stigmata and end only in death: (op. cit. infra, II, x). It seems historically certain that ecstatics alone bear the stigmata; moreover, they have visions which correspond to their rôle of co-sufferers, beholding from time to time the blood-stained scenes of the Passion.
With many stigmatics these apparitions were periodical, e.g., St. Catherine de' Ricci, whose ecstasies of the Passion began when she was twenty (1542), and the Bull of her canonization states that for twelve years they recurred with minute regularity. The ecstasy lasted exactly twenty-eight hours, from Thursday noon till Friday afternoon at four o'clock, the only interruption being for the saint to receive Holy Communion. Catherine conversed aloud, as if enacting a drama. This drama was divided into about seventeen scenes. On coming out of the ecstasy the saint's limbs were covered with wounds produced by whips, cords etc.
History of Stigmata
Stigmata" is a Catholic phenomenon, used to describe the appearance of the wounds of Christ on a pious saint or Christian believer. It has been long debated by many who believe stigmata is instead a psychosomatic effect brought on by intense prayer. Stigmatics themselves are the main source of mystery for thousands of Christian believers. Are they really being punctured by the forces of God? Or are the wounds self-inflicted by those who harbor intense belief?
Stigmata can exists in two forms, visible and invisible. Invisible wounds are those covered by the forces of God for the inner comfort of the sufferer. Visible wounds appear on the side, palms, feet and head, and often appear and disappear in the space of a few hours. They can appear in one area alone, or all areas at once. Often, intense bleeding accompanies them, and the period before they appear is characterized by depression and weakness. Some stigmatics report feeling whips across their backs.
The first recorded case of these wounds was in the year 1222, by a man names Stephen Langton of England. St. Francis of Assissi, a famous follower of Jesus, experienced wounds in 1224.
The wounds can be experienced by both men and women. One of the more famous female stigmatics was St. Catherine of Siena, who experienced invisible wounds on her hands and feet. An interesting fact about stigmata is that it corresponds with the Passion and Death of Christ. Many wounds appear during the Last Supper, and the holy days of Easter. They disappear on Easter itself. Stigmatics reportedly speak to visions of Christ and angels during their trials, and smell strange scents. There are even reported cases of the blood types not matching between stigmata and wounds.
Split a piece of wood, and god is there, Lift up a rock, you will find god there.