Showing posts with label Stigmatization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stigmatization. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Mystery of Stigmatization Part II

According to Brother Elias, the minister general of the young order, the stigmata took the form of nail punctures son both hands and feet. Thomas of Celano, the author of the first official biography of St Francis, spoke of nails running right through his body, formed by extensions of the flesh. The Franciscans have long emphasized the uniqueness of St. Francis’s stigmata, and the Catholic Church has responded cautiously.
Nevertheless, there have been other incidents of stigmatization since St. Francis. To date, 320 have been noted, most of them women. In the middle ages, the most celebrated cases were Elisabeth of Spallbeck, who died in 1274; a Dominican monk named Gauthier of Strasbourg and Catherine of Siena who wrote down her visions and ecstasies in the so called Dialogo, The Book of Divine Providence. In the modern times, the most famous cases have been those of Therese Neumann from Germany’s Rhineland region, and an Italian Franciscan monk by the name of Father Pio (1887-1968).

Virtually all cases of stigmatization share certain features. Wounds appear at regular intervals on specific days, mainly Fridays, and above all on Good Friday. The wounds do not become infected, but remain open and do not respond to medical treatment. Scientists and experts have advanced a number of explanations for stigmatization. Some see it as a fraud, while others regard it as the effect of hysterical neuroses. In spite of its reservations, the Catholic Church admits that God might make use of an individual predisposition towards stigmatization.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Mystery of Stigmatization Part I

In one of the most bizarre phenomena ever recorded, hundreds of devout Christians have reported that the wounds suffered by Christ have spontaneously appeared on their bodies. It is still unclear whether these wounds, or stigmata, are self inflicted, or if they really come from god.
When we say that a person bears the stigma of guilt or failure, we really mean that the person has been marked by a particular experience. In the purely physical sense, a stigma is mark or brand that is cut or burned onto the skin. There are many cultures that use stigmatization, or scarring to decorate the body, to signify membership in a tribe or social group or to designate slaves or criminals. In the Christian religion, stigmatization has a specific meaning: if refers to bleeding wounds that regularly appear in the same places- the head and feet, sides and forehead and the shoulders and back. The origin of these signs is connected to an ecstatic experience of the passion of Christ, and the wounds correspond to those suffered by Jesus Christ when he has beaten and nailed to the cross.
 In his letter to the Galatians, contained in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul wrote that he bore the stigmata of Christ on his body. He was referring to the wounds that he had suffered in his mission to spread the word of Christ.
The first proven case of spontaneous stigmatization was that of St Francis of Assisi founder of the Franciscan order of monks. In mid September, 1224, the saint went into solitude at Mount Laverna near Arezzo in Tuscany to fast and pray. In a vision, he saw a crucified angel. Deeply moved, he began to meditate on Passion of Christ, and noticed how the marks of the crucifixion appeared on his skin. For the rest of his life, he tried to hide the wounds from his brothers, but many were able to observe them at the moment of his death, as he lay naked on the ground.