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Record Type: Review   ID: 810

Stigmata: An Investigation Into the Mysterious Appearance of Christ's Wounds in Hundreds of People From Medieval Italy to Modern America

Wilson, Ian

 Wilson, in this survey of stigmatics, points out the importance of the phenomenon of stigmata for the mind-body relationships. Although this is a historical survey, Wilson interviewed an English stigmatic, Jane Hunt. He notes that after the stigmata began, she "felt a hitherto unrecognized capacity for healing" (p. 5), especially laying-on-of-hands. He then compares Hunt's case with that of Padre Pio. St. Francis of Assisi was the first to produce stigmata in 1224. He reviews some of the early stigmatics and then devotes a chapter each to the 19th and 20th centuries. He concludes that "it can be said with confidence that in the case of some, if not all, claimed stigmatics their flesh does seem spontaneously to change and bleed in the same manner as has been reported even [sic] since the time of St. Francis" (p. 61). Next he examines the nature of the wounds and then considers what may have triggered them. Mostly stigmatics have a religious vocation. Often the onset of their phenomena was accompanied by visions and voices. They all engaged in "protracted contemplation of the sufferings of Christ" (p. 82). He reviews efforts to produce stigmata with considerable success, especially psychiatrist Alfred Lechler. He also surveys other abilities and phenomena associated with stigmatics, including clairvoyance, elongation, body shrinkage, functioning on little sleep, prolonged fasting, premonitions, the capacity to see apparitions, and healing. In a concluding overview, Wilson generalizes about stigmata and stigmatics and urges that they be taken seriously. There is an appendix of biographies of 91 stigmatics from the 13th century through 1983.
Publisher Information:San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1989. 164p. Chap. bibl: 149-157; 14 illus; Index: 159-164
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