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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

stigmata As religious phenomena, spontaneous wounds of the hands, feet, and right side of the body——corresponding to the traditional wounds on the body of Jesus Christ——first were reported by a chronicler of Saint Francis of Assisi in 1229.
      Among modern stigmatists——and there are many——were Padre Pio (1887-1968) and Teresa Neumann (1898-1962). These people exhibited the wounds to varying degrees, Ms. Neumann even crying tears of blood. When she was in a coherent state, she claimed that she had survived only on sacramental wafers and a sip of wine each day for thirty-five years.
      Since twenty-four-hour-a-day surveillance would be necessary to establish the validity of these phenomena as miracles, no case of stigmata exists that can be said to be free of suspicion. The attitude of church officials who looked into the Neumann claim that wounds appeared in her palms spontaneously, reflects the general indifference to rigor exhibited in such inquiries. One investigator, Father P. Siwek, S.J., wrote that though he had “the gravest doubts about the genuineness of the marvels attributed to Teresa,” those doubts did not exclude the possibility of “solid Christian virtues and genuine mystical states.”
      It is also interesting to note that in all such cases, the wounds in the hands appear at the palms, which agrees with religious paintings but not with the actualities of crucifixion; the wounds should appear at the wrists.

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