Stigmata (Ancient Greek: στίγματα, plural of στίγμα stigma, 'mark, spot, brand'), in Christianity, are the appearance of bodily wounds, scars and pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ, such as the hands, wrists, and feet.
Stigmata are exclusively associated with Roman Catholicism. Many reported stigmatics are members of Catholic religious orders. St. Francis of Assisi was the first recorded stigmatic. For over fifty years, St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin reported stigmata which were studied by several 20th-century physicians. Stigmata are notably foreign to the Eastern Orthodox Church, which professes no official view on the matter; the first and only stigmatics have been Catholics who lived after the Great Schism of 1054.
A high percentage (perhaps over 80%) of all stigmatics are women. In his book Stigmata: A Medieval Phenomenon in a Modern Age, Ted Harrison suggests that there is no single mechanism whereby the marks of stigmata were produced. What is important is that the marks are recognised by others as of religious significance. Many cases of stigmata have been debunked as trickery. Some cases have also included reportings of a mysterious chalice in visions being given to stigmatics to drink from or the feeling of a sharp sword being driven into one's chest.
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