History of stigmata

The history of stigmata goes back for many centuries. Indeed, for over seven hundred and fifty years there have been individual Christians who have exhibited on their bodies the physical marks of Christ’s suffering.

How do stigmata show?

They have had wounds in their hands as if nails have been hammered through. Additionally, their feet are similarly scarred and bled. Also, some have had marks on the forehead corresponding to those which might have been made by a crown of thorns. And others have had a wound in the side as if they have been speared. Also stripes across the back as if from scourging is seen. They carried the stigmata, the marks of Christ’s suffering. It is very difficult to calculate the precise number of stigmatics living at any given time. There will be some whose experiences have not become public knowledge and there will be others, who, having once been thrust into the public domain, have retreated into privacy and who have since died.

Photograph of a famous case of stigmata. This is Therese Neumann

Most famous cases of stigmata

The history of stigmata. A good estimate of current cases would be 25 with the following being amongst the best known:

  • Christina Gallagher from County Mayo
  • Father Jim Bruse from Virginia USA
  • Jane Hunt from Derbyshire in England
  • George Hamilton from Glasgow, Scotland
  • Cloretta Robinson from California, USA
  • Julia Kim from Korea
  • Sister Angus Sasagawa from Japan
  • Giorgio Bongiovanni from Italy
  • Angelica Rael from the USA
  • Domenica Lo Bianco from Italy
  • Roberto Casarin from Italy;
  • Vera D’Agostino from Italy
  • Gino Burresi from Italy
  • Amparia Cuevas from Portugal
  • Georgette Faniel from Canada.

First documented case of stigmata 

It is generally accepted that St Francis of Assisi was the first person to receive these strange wounds. His stigmatization occurred in September 1224 on the Feast of Exultation of the Holy Cross. This somewhat minor festival was, in the thirteenth century, celebrated with considerable fervor. St Francis was at the time totally absorbed in a longing to suffer for and with Christ. As many subsequent paintings have shown his wounds were received, according to legend, in the course of a vision during which a six winged seraph etched the marks of crucifixion on the Saints hands feet with five lines of light.

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