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Stigmata

Bodily wounds. This can be also a non- Christian phenomenon, but among Christians it dates back to later medieval times, despite references that have been made to Galatians 6:17. Stigmata were received on the hands, feet, side, shoulder, chest, or back and were reckoned to be a visible sign of participation in Christ's passion. Whether visible or invisible there is pain, sometimes accompanied by afflictions like lameness or blindness without logical causes, and nearly total abstinence from food and sleep. Stigmata are reported to resist treatment and to bleed periodically, especially during holy days and seasons, occur supernaturally and self-imposedly, and can represent evil as well as mystical contemplation. They spring from ecstasy, which can mean weakness; they can appear before or after a revelation, and to those of inferior piety and morality they are sometimes incomplete. Because of the connection with Christ's passion, there is even concern over their bodily position and shape. The Roman Catholic Church tends to be cautious over stigmata, and they have never been a reason for canonization. Francis of Assisi,* Catherine of Siena,* Teresa of Avila,* and Julian of Norwich* are well-known examples of those who have experienced stigmata, but the cases are numerous and involve especially women. The non-Roman Catholic traditions do not have this history, though they have known not dissimilar manifestations.

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