Stigmata – The Bleeding Wounds

Divine Miracles are part and parcel of every religion and its belief system: Every religious text contains stories of divine miracles. It is irrevocable, proven fact that the stories of Divine Miracles keep the religious followers firmly and unshakably attached to their   faith and these stories help the faithful to offer timely prayers to their gods and deities. Above all, divine miracles are irreversible boost for the strength and might of every Religion. There is therefore no need for exhaustive research to find why divine miracles form integral part of every religion.

The most revered Divine Miracle of Christianity is appearance of “bleeding wounds of crucifixion” on the palms, chests and feet of notified Saints of extraordinary faith. These wounds are called stigmata: The number of stigmatics who had been anointed with sainthood in the whole history of Christianity, spanning over twenty centuries, is hardly around sixty. The bleeding wounds of stigmata are very rare occurrences and they are regarded as the greatest of all miracles in the history of Christian belief system.

The wounds on the body of the stigmatic are believed to represent the wounds sustained by Jesus Christ at the time of crucifixion. Christian literature has made very reverential references on divine men who had stigmata, the Holy Wounds of Crucifix on their palms and chests. The latest among the Holy Stigmatics were the French religious fanatic Louise Lateaue and Italian priest Padre Peo. While both are no more alive, Padre Peo was the twentieth century Stigmatic who left for heavenly abode on 17-9-1968.

Stigmata are spontaneous local bleeding ulcerations. They are symptoms appearing on certain persons who suffer from hysterical neurosis. In religious cults these local subcutaneous bruises develop on the body of persons of highly susceptible religious fervour during ecstatic states. The life story of Padre Peo will be of immense help to illustrate the sequences leading to the development of stigmata.

Padre Peo’s parents were highly religious. Their great ambition was to send young Padre to monastery and to equip him for priesthood. They planned everything conducive for the boy for a religious and priestly upbringing. He was not allowed to play with neighborhood boys. Prayer and study of religious texts were his only pastime. A grownup Padre was not different, he became a priest and he spent all his time in penance and prayer. He knelt before the crucifix and prayed for hours unending. He cut short his food and sleep. Christ and the great sacrifice were his only thought process. He spent long sixteen years in this way during the period, AD 1902 to 1918.

On one fine morning in early 1918, Padre Peo was in his prayer room: Tired and exhausted, suddenly his sleepy eyes twinkled as he could ultimately meet the fruition of his ambition, nay the ambition of a generation: Blood was dripping from the cross-like wounds developed on his palms. To add to his delight, he further observed ulcers on his feet and also on top of his chest. All this was unforgettable moments for him; it was the moment of the great miracle, the miracle that proclaimed Padre Peo as one of the most glorified Saints among the rank holders of stigmatics.

In the foregoing context, it becomes very much necessary to trace the scientific explanation for the appearance of bleeding wounds in the body of stigmatics. The ulcerous wounds of stigmata are not created by or through any external instruments like knife, stones, sticks or wood as we have seen in the case of Padre Peo?

In the summer of 1927, in the erstwhile Soviet Russia, famous scientists V Finne, M Chernorutsky and K Povarin conducted a very detailed study to trace the path of stigmata.  The relevant portion of the research paper on the experiment is reproduced below:

“Subject M. 35 years old, easily suggestible, was put under deep state of suggested sleep (hypnosis): Once she was under Hypnosis, the scientists placed a copper coin on the inner side of her left forearm and gave strong suggestion that the object was a burning hot metal disc. Within a short while the subject sustained a heavy burn inside her forearm and she felt acute pain.

“The subject M was then woken up from Hypnosis and was kept under observation by the scientists: According to the records, 25 minutes after the aforesaid hypno-suggestion and after awakening from sleep, the subject’s skin at the point of the “burn” became reddish; after 55 minutes a swelling was observed; after 2½hours, a white spot appeared in the centre of the burnt spot. And after 3 ½ hours later, a blister was formed on the spot. “

Yes, under deep hypnosis any suggestion to the effect of “burning” makes a second degree burn on the body of the subject where the hypnotist or the operator-scientist wanted the burn to occur. This is the result of extraordinary reactions of the paradoxical phase of hypnosis.

When the devotee during rituals surrenders totally to the one and the only thought process of salvation, then he passes through extreme ecstatic states. In such ecstatic state the same phenomenon as observed in the development of second degree burn, can take place. It should however be clearly understood that appearance of stigmata hardly occurs during common prayers and rituals. It takes place in very, very rare cases of extreme religious practices arising out of acute, dedication which is nothing short of self-sacrifice.

During the long spells of prayful sessions, the dedicated believer becomes completely exhausted, the exhaustion being the consequence of excessive excitation of nerve cells due to strained body postures and concentration on certain specific thought process. The believer-subject thus enters into deep hypnotic phases. His delusional beliefs of “holy wounds” that has strong rooted images in his memory turn out to be powerful suggestions: He develops blisters and wounds in his palms and on his chest, just like the second degree burn that had developed in F Finne’s experiments. It is nothing other than hysterical neuroses.