"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stigmata: From God or not?

St. 'Padre Pio'

Today is the feast day of St. Pio of Pietrelcina (known as Padre Pio). He is a modern day Catholic saint who died at 2:30 AM on this day in 1968. His life is quite amazing, and the stories told about him are remarkable. The most amazing thing about him is that he bore the stigmata (the five wounds of Christ; cf. Galatians 6:17) for 50 years. More information has recently been released about his stigmata here. I wrote a bit more about him last year here.

The Catholic encyclopedia article on mystical stigmata is here. St. Francis of Assisi received the stigmata on the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14) in the year 1224.

Stigmatisation of St. Francis
Giotto di Bondone (1325)

According to the Catholic encyclopedia article, there have been over three hundred persons who have received the stigmata. So far as I know, they have all been Catholic. So, are stigmata from God or not? If stigmata are not from God, then why were men like St. Francis and St. Pio such holy men? But if stigmata are from God, then why do Catholics receive them but Protestants do not?


udernation said...

Interesting observation about the lack of protestant stigmata. Is it possible that Protestant stigmata are simply not on Catholic record, and the denominational (ie. non-centralised) nature of Protestantism has made it more difficult to find record of it?

Anonymous said...

Damian - it's improbable beyond credibility.

Eric Telfer said...

Many Protestants love miracles, healings, and other such excitement. I am sure that they would have made a big deal out of something like this if they had the chance to do so.


Anonymous said...

Provocative. Stigmata. Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Eucharistic Miracles. Etc. Its as if the Church were yet infused with a supernatural life, in communion of both the living and the dead in Jesus Christ, our Crucified and Risen Lord. And it seems that this life still blazes forth in miracles at times, in places and to people chosen by our Sovereign Lord for his own, often inscrutable, reasons. And that is both encouraging and offensive at the same time, though in different senses.

Grifman said...

Someone needs to work on their Google fu. A quick Google and wiki review indicates that non-Catholics have indeed received the stigmata.

Bryan Cross said...


Where's the link?

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

udernation said...

Tim and Eric,

I agree with you. But from my knowledge the stigmata haven't been common ever, and that is one reason Padre Pio's stigmata were so noteworthy.

Hence, before the global community that we have now occurred, surely it's not as improbable as you say?

CD-Host said...

Well just as an aside Eric, and I were discussing popular literature and non canonical gospels. Your post reminded me of a perfect example Padro Pio (Father Alameida) and the stigmata show up in a 1999 horror movie called Stigmata trailer which advances the theory that the Gospel of Thomas is the original gospel authored by Jesus.

Anyway in answer to your question people experience miracles consistent with their faith tradition. Protestants generally don't use crucifix images they don't focus on the suffering of the Christ, so for example they don't do the stations of the cross. It makes sense they would experience different types of miracles. So for example they got a lot more speaking in tongues, prophetic revelation, snake handling, walking on fire... Louisiana Catholics get voodoo style miracles involving chicken's blood and pee curing disease, etc...

Jason Stellman said...

Did he get the stigmate before or after he starred as Obi Wan Kenobi in the first Star Wars film?

The Dude said...

It *seems* that the question of why RCs only receive the stigmata is to lead one to think it might be a mark of approval/favor by God of the RCC. But Eastern Orthodox have incorruptibles, so does that mean He favors them just as much as the RCC? Furthermore, care should be taken with many of the stigmata stories that reach farther back in history as they could be the stuff of legend, similar to all the eucharistic miracles that suddenly emerged in medieval times (such as bees building a chapel around a discarded host and the like).

The Catholic Journeyman said...

C'mon Jason...Obi was a Buddhist, we all know that. ;-)

CD-Host said...

Bryan --

Do you know you have comments off on the last few posts?

Bryan Cross said...


Yes, I turned them off for those posts, for the sake of time.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Matt said...

A brief google search didn't yield any documented cases of non-Catholics receiving stigmata. Just assertions that it has happened or could happen.

Btw, any thoughts on the appearance of the wounds on the palm of the hand despite the allegation that Christ's wounds couldn't possibly have been in His palms as it wouldn't have supported His weight? It's usually claimed they were in His wrist, right?

George Weis said...


This was a question in my mind also. The Shroud of Turin also shows the wrists I believe as it has the thumbs locked inward (which is what is said to happen if the wrists would be pierced.

I'm not saying this makes the miracle false... but does anyone have a thought on this?


CD-Host said...

The imagery has the nails through the hands. John uses "hands". So I think the miracle is going to be in terms of hands. There is no reason the miracles should follow the "reality" rather than the imagery.

In terms of the real thing. Hand flesh can't support the body weight without support so either ropes would be used or a platform. The best crucified body we have had the person's feet turned sideways and nailed in with some soft of a hooking pattern. It is unclear what the point would be. I don't think we know much about the mechanics of crucifixion as it happened.