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Daily Catholic Question

Why do the stigmata appear in different ways?

Obviously, there are few sure answers we can give or find regarding the stigmata. We are not even certain how the stigmata (wounds of the Passion)looked on Christ’s body. We can only speculate. But we do know that the stigmata do not appear the same in all who are believed to have had them.

One stigmatic, for instance, had only the wounds that would have been made by the crown of thorns. Two possessed only the wound in the side. Some had the lance wound in the left side (Padre Pio), another in the right side (St. Francis of Assisi). One had the hand wounds in the wrists, others in the palms of the hands.

Is it significant that more women than men have had the stigmata? What can we conclude from the fact that most stigmatics came from the Dominican and Franciscan Orders? And what does it say that some saints were stigmatics but not all stigmatics were saints?

Ian Wilson, in Stigmata, searches for a natural explanation. Among the possibilities he suggests is some inner mechanism comparable to that which under stress produces evolutionary adaptations in species.

In his study, Wilson notes some stigmatics seem to have identified with earlier stigmatics—ultimately with Jesus. Finally, Wilson notes, "A really riveting feature is the extraordinary precision of the mechanism’s conformity to the visualization that triggered it. Stigmata have been precisely positioned to conform with the wounds of a stigmatic’s favorite crucifix. Or a wound may have taken on the exact shape, such as a cross."

That seems to imply that the stigmata may occur according to the way the subject pictures or imagines them.

Click here for the rest of today's answer

Sunday, May 12, 2013
Daily Catholic Question for 5/11/2013 Daily Catholic Question for 5/13/2013


Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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