From Academic Kids

This article is about stigmata in the religious sense. For other uses, see stigma.

Stigmata (plural of stigma) are wounds that were, according to the Bible, inflicted on Jesus during his crucifixion. There have been many reports of other individuals who display similar wounds, the causes of which have been subject to considerable debate. Some contend that stigmata are miraculous, others argue they are hoaxes or can be explained medically.



There have been over 500 reported stigmatics who have displayed wounds similar to those supposedly inflicted upon Jesus. The first recorded case of these wounds was in the year 1222, by a man named Stephen Langton of England. Saint Francis of Assisi first suffered the wounds in La Verna, Italy, in 1224.

Other famous stigmatists include Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint John of God, and Saint Marie of the Incarnation. The most famous stigmatist of the twentieth century was Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (1887-1968). Stigmata was more recently experienced by Brother Roque (1968-1996); a novice in the order of Los Hijos de Los Hijos de La Madre de Dios (roughly: The Sons of the Sons of the Mother of God) in Villavicencio, Colombia; and Canadian Lilian Bernas who began exhibiting stigmata in 1992.


There have been historical stigmatics that were known to have faked wounds, such as Magdalena de la Cruz (1487-1560), who admitted the fraud.

Similarly self-inflicted wounds can be associated with certain brain disorders. Some people who fake stigmata suffer from Munchausen syndrome which is characterised by an intense desire for attention. People with Munchausen hurt themselves or fake an illness hoping to end up in a hospital where they can enjoy attention and care.

People also fake stigmata knowing that some who had stigmata were declared holy by the Pope. In this way they try to gain recognition. Self-inflicted stigmata wounds heal naturally.


  • Wounds in hands or wrists, caused by nails
  • Wounds in feet, caused by nails (not explicitly mentioned in any canonical gospel)
  • Wounds caused by a Crown of Thorns
  • Wounds caused by whip lashings or scourging on the back,
  • Wounds caused by the Spear of Destiny in the side, this is often fatal.
  • Supposedly, a real stigmatic exhibits the wounds in a five part series. Each series is separated by a length of time, only to repeat again like so: A; A,B; A,B,C; A,B,C,D; A,B,C,D,E. At the end of each sequence the stigmatic is known to smell a specific type of flower; see also odor of sanctity.
  • There is debate over the historical method crucifixion, if nails were driven through the hands or wrists.

Popular culture

The stigmata theme has been used in several movies:

In an episode of the TV series Nip/Tuck, a plastic surgeon discovers that his client faked stigmata in order to save a dying halfway house.

External links

fr:Stigmates it:Stigmate he:סטיגמטה nl:Stigmata


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