All of us are in search of authentic proof that life continues after death and that ghosts, spirits, and angels, to name a few, actually exist. Religions of the world teach that we must have faith and believe that we continue once our physical body dies. The Catholic faith also teaches us to have this faith; however, there is a phenomenon that occurs for a rare few that brings the mystical into reality. This condition is known as the stigmata.
The stigmata is the appearance of the wounds that Jesus suffered during his passion of the cross. Jesus’ was nailed to the cross when he was crucified and it created a hole in both hands and both feet. Another wound was created in his side when a soldier pierced his to see if he was still alive. Those who claim to have the stigmata, have these same wounds Jesus suffered and for extended periods of time. Stigmata wounds never heal and are often reported to smell of a sweet fragrance. Accompanying this condition is the ability to go long periods of time with little or now food or water. It is taught in the Catholic faith that the stigmata is a blessing bestowed on the most holy and devout.
St. Francis of Assisi was the first Catholic saint that is reported to have had the stigmata. Several other saints have also had the stigmata, but St. Padre Pio is the most recent saint to exhibit the wounds. St. Padre Pio, was a miraculous healer and exhibited the stigmata for fifty years until his death in 1968. Both St. Francis and St. Padre Pio were subjected to tests and observation to validate their authenticity.
|St. Padre Pio|
Modern scientific research on the phenomenon believes that the stigmata was not mystical at all, but a result of possible dissociative identity disorders. These types of disorders have a link between self starvation, dissociative mental states, and self mutilation.
It’s very possible the stigmata was the result of nothing more than mental disorder. But to countless Catholics, it is physical proof that life not only exists after this world, but that the Divine is truly working within our reality.
Kerri L. Schultz