There have been unexplainable wounds that appear on individuals that are attributed to Christ. These wounds often appear on believers of Christianity or on a devout saint. This phenomenon is called “Stigmata” and many skeptics denounce the fact that such wounds appear by the force of God.
Questions that arise regarding stigmatics include the nature of their wounds. Skeptics often believe that the wounds were somehow self-inflicted. These wounds can be seen on the side of the body, as well as on the palms, feet and head of the stigmatic. The wounds can often mysteriously appear and disappear in a span of a couple of hours. The wounds often bleed uncontrollably, causing weakness in the person who is exhibiting this unknown act. There have been documented accounts of stigmatics feeling a whip across their back. Other descriptions of stigmata include visions of Christ, as well as smelling an odd scent.
The first record of stigmata can be traced back to 1222, involved St. Francis of Assisi, who famously followed Jesus, where he experienced such wounds. Usually, stigmata deals with the Passion and Death of Christ. Many stigmatics have dealt with the wounds during the same time as the Last Supper, as well as during Easter.
Reports regarding stigmata have been seen throughout the world. Cases have been documented in France, Spain, Germany, America, as well as England. There have been more than 300 documented cases, but the number of stigmatics is believed to be well over that figure.
The people who have been affected by stigmata include monks, priests, nuns, as well as famous saints. St. Frances of Rome, St. Gertrude, St. Collette and St. Marie of the Incarnation have all experienced stigmata. One of the more recent stigmatics is Georgio Bongiavani, who displayed the signs of stigmata on his hands and forehead. There have been no explanation for his wounds and many claim that his wounds appeared and disappeared at any time.
One of the gifts that a stigmatic may receive includes the ability to prophesize, reading of souls, as well as being able to perform miracles. Some stigmatics are able to perform cures that cannot be explained through medical means or scientific theories. Below are a few well-known stigmatics:
St Catherine of Siena (1347-80): She felt the invisible wounds of stigmata on her feet and hands. It is not uncommon for a stigmatic to feel both the invisible and visible effects of stigmata. St. Catherine had a vision of Hell, Purgatory and of Heaven. She also heard voices that instructed her of some of the things she should do in the future.
St. John of God (1495-1550): He was the founder of the Order of Charity, who was said to have been given the gift of the vision of the Infant Jesus.
St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi (1566-1607): Was a Carmelite who experienced numerous raptures and ecstasies, which are a form of being in a supernatural state
Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-90): A Visitandine who experienced the crown of thorns
St. Mary Frances of the Five Wounds (1715-91): Franciscan tertiary, who experienced the signs of stigmata. Her stigmata was invisible, but she was said to have felt the pain of the Passion within her body.