Stigmata – From God Satan or Imagination?

Stigmata are primarily associated with the Roman Catholic faith. Many reported stigmatics are members of Catholic religious orders.

Stigmata (singular stigma) are bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus, such as the hands and feet. In some cases, rope marks on the wrists have accompanied the wounds on the hands.

I have always been a little bemused by Stigmata, which seems born more from hysteria than the Holy Spirit. Firstly, why mainly hands and feet, but not so commonly; forehead (crown of thorns), side or chest area and wheels on the back (from the lashing), as well?

Jesus Christ and Stigmata

Jesus Christ and Stigmata

Are the wounds on the feet from 1 nail being driven through both feet, or are wounds from two separate nails shown?

And, what is the purpose of being inflicted by these wounds of Christ?

Finally, I was once commissioned to paint a picture of Jesus on the cross for a video – a horrible picture, but the producer liked it! Anyhoo… try as I might, I simply could not get the picture to work if I placed the nails through the palms of the hands. However, as soon as I moved the nails to the wrist area, the picture seemed to come alive!

My question is, do you believe Stigmata is a blessing from God? If so, why to you believe that and what do you think the purpose of stigmata is?


Asked by A J Ryder

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  1. Hi AJ,

    I really don’t see stigma as a blessing, but rather a symbol of religious zeal. I once watched a tv program about it, where scientific tests have proved that if someone was crucified with nails through the palms, their hands would tear to shreds through their own weight, so the only way they could be supported by nails was through the wrists, in the gap the radius and ulna, and the scientists seemed to agree that the most likely cause of death was suffocation, caused when the person finally could no longer support their own weight at the knees and put extreme pressure on their chest when the sank down.

    Is it a hysterical reaction? In my opinion, and its not a researched one, since I”ve only touched on the subject lightly, I think it is. It usually happens to Christian people, as you said, or someone who knows of Christian people. I have not read of anyone outside the faith, who has no contact with it, that developed this reaction.

    The purpose of the experience has to come from something inside the mind of the person, so might vary in each case, but it certainly ‘marks’ them, for all to see, as one of ‘Christ’s’ people.

    Is that your painting? It always puzzles me why some people see Jesus as blond and blue eyed. Given that his parents were both Israelites, genetically he was more than likely olive skinned and brown haired. But I remember as a child, the figure in our church was also blond blue eyed. If Jesus had had those colourings, I am sure people would have made comment on that in the bible. It would have been very unusual, given the climate, apart from anything else.

    Love & Peace

    • Hmm.. just realised the title of this question included Satan.

      I don’t really think Satan would want people reminded so clearly of the acts of Jesus Christ, as to mark someone with stigmata .. given what it symbolises, a huge act of love and sacrifice. I was taught that the crucifixion freed us from ‘sin’s’ tyranny, and therefore Satan’s control over humanity. It didn’t free us from demons, however, even Padre Pio, who suffered stigmata most of his church life, suffer also from demons.

      Love & Peace

  2. Hi Ama

    I think of Jesus as having tawny hair and pale skin (pale, taking into account the climate where he lived). I struggle to imagine him quite as blonde and fair haired as depicted by most Christians, I must admit. (Unless he was an albino??? LOL!) But people did travel around more than we probably presume they did in those times too – so it is possible that some Jewish people were fairer than others?? I know of quite a few fair haired, blue-eyed Jew’s personally – so, who knows? After all Judism is a religion, not a race.

    As far as that picture is concerned, it was commissioned. It had to be done to a remit, so to speak. As most people define Jesus with a ‘Swedish-style’ colouring, that is what I had to work with. The nails were also supposed to be through the hands, but that didn’t quite go to plan – lol!

    In any event, I never liked the picture anyway …


  3. Extremely interesting question A.J. One in which I am in no way qualified to answer. I do however look forward to seeing what everyone thinks on the subject. Way to keep us on our toes :)

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