If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
Stigmata is the miracle of where God puts the crucifixion marks of Jesus on a person's body so that they may suffer for sinners or as a sign. The most famous stigmatist was Padre Pio who had superficial wounds but who tried to manipulate people to think they were deep marks and who was using chemicals to make the marks. The best medical assessments of him found that the wounds were only skin deep. When he died his skin was clear.
There is no scarcity of people who go to a lot of trouble to be accepted as stigmatists when they are probably not for real.
Jane Hunt – An Anglican Stigmatist. An embarrassment to the Roman Church which boasts that it is the only religion that has real miracles. Her stigmata is far more impressive than that of Padre Pio but she is a fraud if Roman Catholicism is the true faith.
St Francis of Assisi – An oddball who once stripped nude in public – hmm I wonder if this exhibitionism was what drove him to make his stigmata if he did make it. There is no evidence that he didn’t make the wounds himself (nor did the Church ever claim to have any) and there is none that he did either but when in doubt we have to accept the natural explanation. There is doubt if Francis exhibited hand and feet wounds at all for he seems to have had lumps of flesh there in the shape of a nail. The flesh formed a head like a nail and where a nail would come out there was a point of flesh. Pope Alexander IV in 1255 stated in a Papal Bull that the nails were either made of flesh or some other substance (page 68, The Bleeding Mind). The question arises then is this, did Francis glue these things to his body? They could have been made of resin that was stuck to his body. The heads of the nails were round and black and it is bizarre and suspicious that the point of the nail was curved (page 104)
Francis imposed severe fasts on himself when he was very unwell and yet his behaviour was apparently sanctioned by God in the stigmata! It is certain that the canonisation that took place two years after his death is not worth the paper it is written on. The Roman Catholic stigmata critic, Fr Herbert Thurston SJ examined all the stigmatics since St Francis and curiously concluded that St Francis was the only case that was satisfactory though that did not mean he thought he was the only true stigmatist. He felt that since Francis was undeniably holy that he couldn’t have faked. But to anybody who does not believe in the miracle it would seem that the existence of the stigmata was proof that he was not as holy as he made everybody think. Holiness has nothing to do with proving the miracle.
Sor Maria de la Visitacon – a stigmatist Dominican nun who was found to be authentic by the Church investigation and even the physicians declared her to be genuine in 1587 after she was caught painting on the wounds. Later the Inquisition armed with soap and water soon proved the accusation. Her side wound was an inch long which would lead some ignorant people to argue that when it was such a pathetic effort she didn’t inflict it herself so it must have been real - they always find some bizarre excuse for believing. Moreover, when she was a fake despite all the authentication what does that say about the other stigmatics?
Anne Catherine Emmerich – a stigmatised Augustinian German nun who reported many revelations full of absurd statements and anachronisms. She saw the apostles decked out in vestments! Vestments came in in the Christian faith centuries later as imitations of the day to day clothing of the apostles. The apostles never wore vestments. The message is the important thing and when she could not manage to get it right her stigmata did not come from God. Too many revelations is a bad sign for God calls his people to live by faith not sight. Her visions identified a house in Ephesus as the house of the virgin. In reality it was a Church from AD 600 (page 155, The Marian Conspiracy). She has Mary and John the apostle going to Ephesus to live. But this is based on the error that the disciple Jesus loved who was at the cross with Mary and given to Mary as her adopted son was John. The earliest account has John demolishing the temple of Artemis by miracle power and Mary is not mentioned. And it is an account that comes from a top Church Father, Clement of Alexandria! Emmerich has Mary assumed into Heaven. When she and Church tradition are wrong about Mary living and dying in Ephesus how could they be right that Mary went to Heaven body and soul? How could they have any evidence?
Domenica Lazzari – A stigmatist known for a mask of blood that caked over her face and who could not bear sunlight or anything too loud and her senses were extremely and unusually fine-tuned and used to take convulsions in which she hit her chest so hard it was a wonder she didn’t break the rib cage. She was regarded by investigators as authentic because visitors were allowed into her bedroom where she lay paralysed at any time and because her sister who lived with her wanted no money and was a simple woman. That kind of evidence is not good enough. There have been millions of supernatural frauds who acted humble and unmaterialistic. She claimed that her senses were so strong that even faint noises from several yards away caused her great discomfort – claims like that are a big help to getting people out of the way and to distract them for fear of annoying her so that she could perform her tricks.
Marie-Julie Jahenny- had stigmata on her breast which she revealed a bit too eagerly for comfort. God would not organise a miracle that would cause such immodesty. Catholics hold that she fell away from the faith (page 30, The Stigmata and Modern Science).
Bertha Mrazek – after an allegedly miraculous cure this lady who had training in trickery at a circus manifested the stigmata. Believers thought she did not fake the stigmata because the wounds in the palm were slits while at the back there was just a pinprick for a faker would have consistent and more flamboyant wounds (so we should believe people who have the side wound on their backsides then should we?). Arch-sceptic Fr Herbert Thurston believed she was not inflicting them on herself. The lady was later found out to have obtained money by deception, committed adultery and had a lovechild, and to have been insane. She suffered from hysteria which many researchers believe gives some unusual people the power to make themselves bleed just by desire.
Teresa Neumann – this stigmatist was known to bleed only when Professor Martini the person doing the investigating was out of the room (page 52, The Bleeding Mind). She made movements that were so unnecessary and bizarre that he was not impressed by her and thought she might have been doing conjuring tricks to make herself bleed. When she was allegedly not eating thanks to another miracle there was plenty of medical evidence that she was during the period when she was not watched round the clock (page 115, The Bleeding Mind). There is nothing anybody can do to lift these suspicions now. She may have faked her stigmata when she apparently faked the living without food miracle.
Father Gino Burresi is someone alive today who makes exactly the same claims as Pio. Yet it is known that this man is not a saint. And charges of sexual abuse have been made against him and the Vatican has banned his ministry. Gino still has his supporters though. When Gino could get away with his claims for so long today how much easier could it have been for Pio who lived decades ago in a world where communication and science was less efficient to do that? And Pio was more secluded than Gino as well which helped a lot. The only reason we know that Gino is not a saint is because he unlike Pio got caught in such a way that there was no room for anybody to come along to credibly distort the facts and leave him smelling of roses.