Suffering for Faith: The History of Stigmata

This month, Smithsonian Magazine looks at the history of stigmata – when a faithful follower receives and suffers wounds or pain similar to those experienced by Christ on the cross (most commonly seen in the hands). The religious experience has been controversial amongst believers and non-believers alike, and science has been unable to pinpoint its cause or event agree on its existence.

In addition to claiming that the marks are divine gifts to the holy, skeptics have argued that cases of stigmata were hoaxes, symptoms of other diseases (including plague), or a form of hysteria. Even the Catholic Church is hesitant to discuss the issue (nearly all stigmatics are Catholic).

To learn more about the history of Stigmata, see the article on Smithsonian’s Blog: “The Mystery of the Five Wounds.”

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3 thoughts on “Suffering for Faith: The History of Stigmata

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  2. Jim Wheeler

    This is an excellent example of a religious canard, self-perpetuating. While I do not doubt that there is a strong, physical connection between mind and body, the phenomenon of stigmata stretches gullibility too far. I am a disciple of the Amazing Randi, and I see nothing in the Wikipedia article about it that would change my mind. However, I submit that airing all the known facts about it is a public service. Thanks, Indiana Jen.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Lockett Post author

      It is always a challenge for me to post articles about topics on ‘faith’ and I try to do so in a straight-forward, non-judgmental way. I have yet to say a case of stigmata (modern, recorded) that could be proven ‘miraculous,’ but one could say that means I’m devoid of a life of ‘wonder.’

      Reply

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