Miracles what are they and why do they happen is there some unseen force beyond the veil of reality? Or are these miracles cause by the power of our minds. The religious miracles I would like to theorize on basically are the ones dealing with Christ and the Virgin Mary. Miracles such as the Stigmata, Statues that bleed, Saints that are buried but do not show signs of decay, shed tears. I will admit I am not the most religious man but I do believe that there is a greater force here at work why perhaps these miracles are a way of saying to the world I exist I am that higher power. Although I have never seen a statue weep or witnessed the Stigmata I understand it pretty thoroughly. As religious as some things may seem there is no scientific explanation except theories as to why these events occur. Most of them happen in troubled nations perhaps to give the people in poverty hope or perhaps the church fakes some miracles as a way of keeping people focused to the church, god, and the donations of money from people around the world. But these miracles are not recent happenings they have occurred since the biblical age and 13th century. here is 100s of articles on weeping statues and miracles that we cannot explain. I believe the stigmata is a gift from Christ many will argue about this but if you look back at history people with the stigmata show no sign of a decline in health from the person, no sickness, blood drips from the eyes, hands, feet and they are open wounds once a persons stigmata goes away there are no signs that the wounds were even open. Even the blood type is different. I believe that Christ was a powerful man and I believe that in spirit he is able to carry on his work in the form of others. Those usually chosen for the stigmata are usually religious figures not always but most of the time perhaps its like a possession but rather miraculous one and why? To show the world that Christ still lives even if its in spirit. As far as tearing statues and preserved saints I believe in theory the reason for this happening is simple its a holy miracle something so pure with light this is the result.. Anything holy has energy put into it whether its compassion, sadness, perhaps this is a metaphysical thing people praying to a statue for so long that the statue itself might become intertwined with a religious spirit of the sort. Of course one church put a statue under a leaky roof and rust, dirty dripped down onto the statue covering the face with false tears. But the real crying statues give away a scented oily type of tears and sometimes the blood is that of a human. As far as saints being preserved that's another story perhaps its because they are some of the few people that died happy they lived a positive life helping others perhaps this positivity carried over even in death perhaps the brain stays alive and keeps the body preserved somehow. These are just some theories but I am sure we all have a variety of them dealing with Christ and miracles.
Why Do Icons Weep
Archpriest Paul O’Callaghan
CERTAINLY SEEMS THAT there has been an explosion recently in the frequency
of icons “weeping” in North
America. Several years ago, an icon began weeping in an Albanian Orthodox
Church in Chicago, and the phenomenon received national attention.
Pilgrims came from all over North America, and many miraculous healings
were reported. The weeping icon. “She Who is Quick to Hear,” from the
monastery of the Glorious Ascension in Resaca, Georgia, has been brought
in pilgrimage to many North American Orthodox parishes. Weeping icons have
also been reported in Texas and other states, and one from Russia recently
completed a tour of the U.S. One of the latest and most dramatic cases has
been “Our Lady of Cicero,” (Illinois), an icon on the iconostasis of
St. George Antiochian parish in Chicago.
happens when icons “weep?” In most cases, a moist dew-like substance
begins to form on the icon and then begins to stream down it. On many
weeping icons, the moisture develops in the eyes only, and then wells up
like tears do in a persons eyes, before flowing down the icon in distinct
streams. The substance itself is of an oil-like consistency, and at times
has a distinctly fragrant odor to it.
It is akin to
— myrrh that has flowed from the incorrupt bodies of certain deceased
saints. (i.e.. St. Demetrios the Myrrhstreaming, and others). In the case
of the weeping statues, however, that have occurred in the Roman
Catholic tradition, it has been reported that the “tears” are of a
watery consistency like natural tears.
icons are of every conceivable type and origin. Some have been painted
icons on iconstases, i.e., the Albanian and
Antiochian icons in Chicago. Others have been
reproductions. Some have been inexpensive paper prints mounted on wood.
Some have been painted by accomplished iconographers, while others are
in the non-Byzantine “Western” style. In fact, the Resaca icon is a
common reproduction of poor artistic quality marketed by a heterodox
monastic group! The fact of weeping statues in the Roman Catholic world
adds to the diversity of styles in which the phenomenon exhibits itself.
the best of my personal knowledge, all the recent weeping icons have been
of the Theotokos. I have not heard of any of Christ, or of any other
saint. If they do exist, it is certain that they are far less widespread
than those of the Theotokos.
are we to account for these facts? Assuming for the moment that the
Phenomenon is a manifestation of the grace of God, the diversity of styles
and forms may well be a reminder to us that God is not in the “art
appreciation” business. While it is important that we decorate our
churches with icons written according to the traditional canons of
iconography, we know that God can and does use what is humble, despised,
and unworthy to communicate His grace. This undercuts our pride,
stuffiness, and legalism, and our tendency to draw boundaries outside of
which we presume God cannot be at work.
such an answer must remain tentative, even more so is the one concerning
the question of why weeping icons of the Theotokos are predominant.
Certainly, the Theotokos is presented in the Church’s liturgy as the one
who is our most fervent intercessor in heaven, a well-spring of compassion
for the human race, our helper and aid. That her icons weep could be
symbolic of her closeness and concern for human affairs. However then the
following question arises: Would this not be true of her Son as well? Is
He to be thought any less close and concerned with our affairs?
it would be inappropriate to consider Christ as weeping now, since
He has completed His sufferings once and for all for the sins of the
world, and has entered into the Holy Place and is seated at the right hand
of God. (See Hebrews 5:5-9, 10:12). In any case, we are dealing with a
mystery, and all attempts at explanation must be considered provisional at
best, (and perhaps impious at worst!)
The source Of The Phenomenon
I mentioned the assumption that the weeping icons are a manifestation of
Divine Grace. Can this, however, be
assumed? There are skeptics who would have us believe that the whole thing
is an exercise in fakery and trickery. They wish to search for the hidden
reservoirs, pumps, and conduits that would prove it all to be a hoax.
However, if such were true, there would have to be a widespread conspiracy
of deception that reaches back for centuries shielding this arcane
technology, as weeping icons have been known for that long. Such a theory
stretches credulity far beyond the weeping icons themselves! And what
would it all accomplish? Anyone who knows the life and history of the
Orthodox Church must know that this is entirely ludicrous.
skeptical theory is that there is some natural process that explains it
all. However, how does one account for the great diversity in materials
found in the weeping icons (and statues). No one process could account for
it all, when such dissimilar materials are involved. And why would the
subject be restricted to the Theotokos? The constitution of her icons is
no different than any other. And of course, such naturalistic theories
have even more difficulty in explaining the healings, heavenly fragrances,
and profound spiritual atmosphere many people experience in the presence
of the weeping icons. And what natural theory explains the myrrhbearing
incorrupt bodies of many saints throughout the centuries?
explanation of the weeping icons is that they are a counterfeit
spiritual phenomenon produced by demonic spirits. We certainly know from
Scripture and the tradition of the Church that Satan is capable of
producing spiritual manifestations that appear to be holy and good for the
purpose of deceiving people. Could weeping icons be a spiritual deception?
Those who would uphold this theory would argue that the phenomenon itself
produces enthusiasm for the miraculous but few genuine conversions to
Christ. They hold that weeping icons distract people from the real
concerns of the Gospel (repentance, faith in Christ, growth in divine
grace, the glorification of God) and amount to nothing more than a
spiritual “sideshow” that cannot be from God.
some of these same objections could have been leveled against the ministry
of Jesus himself His earthly ministry had exactly the effect of generating
much enthusiasm for the miraculous but very few actual conversions to
God. Even his eleven most devoted converts deserted Him when the going
became rough! So even if some people show an hysterical preoccupation
with miracles coupled with a lack of interest in the heart of the Gospel,
it does not mean that a particular spiritual manifestation is not from
it is not impossible that a particular manifestation of weeping could be a
demonic counterfeit, such a suggestion must be weighed against the fact
that the tradition of the Church as a whole has accepted this phenomenon
as a blessing from God for centuries. This, together with the fact that
the weeping icons have been a source of spiritual and physical blessings
and healings for many believers, would seem to nullify the assertion that
the phenomenon is demonically orchestrated.
it is important to recognize that belief in such manifestations can
never be equated with divine faith (i.e., belief in the central articles
of the faith, trust in Jesus Christ, etc.). Christians may decide to leave
aside or even reject phenomena like weeping icons without imperiling their
souls. In such a case, one may simply miss out on a blessing that is
offered by God.
of the most frequently discussed aspects of this topic has been the
question of what the weeping means. One common
opinion is that the Virgin is weeping because of the increase in the
sins of the world. However, the concept that the sins of the world have
greatly increased in modern times is questionable. Is the Theotokos sadder
now than when thousands of Christians were being martyred by the pagan
Romans? Do the sins of modern America eclipse the murderous persecutions
of Stalin and Hitler’s genocide of the 1930’s and 40’s? Is there
currently more cause for the Theotokos to weep than when millions of
Orthodox Christians were oppressed by hostile Islamic rulers for
centuries? Or by Communism in recent years? Or to focus again on the
American scene, are our modern sins greater than when millions of African
Americans were forcibly enslaved in our land, or when genocide was being
waged against Native Americans?
sexual immorality (with the resultant AIDS epidemic) has become
increasingly acceptable in recent decades, but the other sins mentioned
above were no less vicious. Perhaps the only other phenomenon that one
could argue has uniquely grieved the heart of God and the Holy Theotokos
in our time is the wholesale apostasy in many of the churches. This indeed
should cause anyone who loves Christ to weep.
immediate association connected with tears of course is sorrow.
However, the fact that what comes from the eyes of the Theotokos is not
a watery, tear-like substance is worthy of note. As mentioned above, the
tears are of an oily type and consistency generally referred to as
“myrrh” in the tradition of the Church. This myrrh is considered a
healing balm: the fact that the Virgin weeps myrrh would then mean she is
pouring out mercy and compassion for the human race in need of healing and
grace. So, in this line of interpretation, the weeping is not so much a
statement that the world is in a uniquely evil condition, but a reminder
that the mercy, grace, and healing power of the Holy Spirit are still with
us in the Church, by the intercessions of the Theotokos.
are those who feel that the weeping should be seen in this context as a
manifestation of grace to call those outside to return to the fold of the
Orthodox Church. In the present American scene, the exclusive location of
this phenomenon within the Orthodox Church may be a call to other
Christians to recognize that Orthodoxy has remained grace-hearing, while
other communions have been anxious to rapidly jettison as much of the
Christian faith and tradition as they can.
are pivotally associated in the tradition of the Church with the grace
of the Holy Spirit. Those who strive for perfect prayer recognize genuine
tears of compunction (not emotional tears) as a great gift of the
Spirit. In this connection, the weeping icons are a call for all of us to
reawaken to the Spirit-filled and grace-bearing nature of the Orthodox
A general examination of the phenomenon of weeping icons leads to the conclusion that it is a manifestation of grace within the Church. The acceptance of weeping icons, (and, one must add, many other miraculous phenomena associated with icons), by the tradition of the Church indicates this is a divine activity and should generally be received as such. However, this is not to endorse every absurd and superstitious opinion that may be offered concerning each particular instance of the phenomenon. The Scriptures warn us to “test all things and to hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21).
the significance of weeping icons must be measured from within the
perspective of the entire tradition of the Church. An unusual
preoccupation with such things cannot be a sign of spiritual health. While
huge crowds will flock to view a weeping icon, many of the same people
will be missing from the regular Sunday celebration of the Eucharist, and
will have little or no interest in hearing the Word of God. Yet in every
Liturgy, a greater miracle occurs as the Lord comes to us as our food and
drink in the Eucharist. Moreover, the lives of many are miraculously
transformed every day by the power of the Gospel. Yes these miracles,
although far more significant, receive few headlines and no fanfare.
The weeping icons may indeed be a sign that the grace of God is with us
and the Holy Theotokos cares for us, but if our interest in them eclipses
the essentials of Christian faith, we have strayed into spiritual
Fr. Paul O‘Callaghan is pastor and dean of St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas. He presently authors “Dialogue” for THE WORD.
Above you will find some photos of the stigmata and some bleeding statues. Just to give you an idea of the phenomena. Because this is such a debatable topic. The eyes, head, feed, wrist, and hands bleed. The wounds close up and most of the time bleed a couple times a day. Some have carried the stigmata for years before it disapears. Some of the weeping statues are just a few of the famous ones around the world. Paranormal yes we cannot explain this. The church is very quiet about these phenomenon and scientist sometimes have no answers for it.
Saints Preserve Us
When the body of Pope John XXIII was dug up in March 2001, he was in good condition, despite having been dead for 37 years. The present pope decided his predecessor needed a new resting place to accommodate the large numbers of people who wanted to revere his tomb in the crypt of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Furthermore, Pope John, son of peasants and known as “the people’s pope”, is on the road to sainthood; one of the preliminary steps in the process is for the potential saint’s body to be exhumed for suitable identification.
Although popes’ bodies are not fully embalmed, they are ‘preserved’ with formalin to prolong the period of public viewing. Funeral director Joseph Watts commented to the New York Daily News: “He was embalmed right away. It was done by doctors, nothing but the best, and he was placed in the perfect place, the Catacombs.” According to Watts, who has visited the tomb, the preservation of the pope’s body was probably the result of a number of factors. “The embalming fluid was formaldehyde-based with other chemicals… he was also in a triple-sealed casket… and that was in a marble crypt… There was no water or anything that could disintegrate [the body].” Vincenzo Pascali from the University of Rome said he doesn’t think Pope John’s preservation is unusual: “It’s more common than you might think. The body of the Holy Father was well protected. Oxygen couldn’t get into the coffin and any in there would have been used up very quickly… [in the construction of the caskets] they used materials like lead and zinc which oxidise and slow the decomposition process.”
her usual reserve, the Catholic Church denied that there was anything
miraculous about the preservation of the pope’s remains. The Vatican
Information Service never used the words ‘miraculous’ or
‘incorrupt’ regarding the body of John XXIII. After the exhumation,
the Vatican Information Service headlined its story with great caution,
simply saying, “Body of Blessed John XXIII is Remarkably Well
Preserved.” This is in keeping with the usual Catholic official policy
which doesn’t rule out supernatural occurrences, but also doesn’t
declare an event miraculous until every natural explanation is
there have been many impeccable accounts of incorruptibility, many
presumed saints were exhumed and re-interred. It soon became the custom
to exhume all candidates for beatification or canonisation. Throughout
the Middle Ages, churches vied for possession of incorrupt bodies, as
they were a proven magnet for pilgrims (who, of course, brought
offerings and donations). Despite its damp climate, mediæval Britain
has nurtured a good number of saintly characters whose bodies didn’t
decay, including Cuthbert, Werburgh, Waltheof and Guthlac. Amongst them
were two royal sisters (Etheldreda and Withburga), a king (Edward the
Confessor), a bishop (Hugh of Lincoln) and an archbishop of Canterbury (Alphege).
At the Reformation, all their shrines were destroyed and the incorrupt
body parts dispersed. When her shrine at Ely Cathedral was destroyed,
the saintly Queen Etheldreda’s hand was preserved by a devout Catholic
family. The still incorrupt hand was enshrined, some 400 years later,
when a little Catholic Church was re-established in Ely. An apocryphal
story relates how the present Queen, on a tour of the cathedral, met the
crusty Irish priest of the little Catholic Church. She asked him if it
wouldn’t be a ‘nice gesture’ to return the hand of St Etheldreda
to the cathedral; he replied that it would be a nice gesture for her to
return the cathedral to the Catholic church.
extraordinary saint is Blessed Margaret of Metola. Margaret was a blind
dwarf, hunchbacked and lame, but that didn’t stop her from living a
life of heroic service to the poor. She died in 1330, but in 1558 her
remains had to be transferred because her coffin was rotting away. At
the exhumation, witnesses were amazed to find that like the coffin, the
clothes had rotted, but Margaret’s crippled body hadn’t. With
typical understatement, Cruz reports: “The body of Blessed Margaret,
which has never been embalmed, is dressed in a Dominican habit, and lies
under the high altar of the Church of St Domenico at Citta-di-Castello,
Italy. The arms of the body are still flexible, the eyelashes are
present, and the nails are in place on the hands and feet. The colouring
of the body has darkened slightly and the skin is dry and somewhat
hardened, but by all standards the preservation can be considered a
remarkable condition, having endured for over six hundred and fifty
is easy enough to dismiss such stories as mediæval credulous nonsense,
but two things make this untenable. First of all, the phenomena are
among the most well-documented of any so-called miraculous occurrences.
Among fortean ephemera, these prodigies are not only still visible, but
the exhumations were witnessed with oaths and affidavits by ordinary
working people as well as respectable professionals. Secondly, the
accounts of incorruptible bodies are not merely mediæval; they are a
part of Christian history from the first century right through to the
two most amazing modern accounts are of St Bernadette (pictured above)
and St Charbel Makhlouf. St Bernadette was the shepherd girl who saw the
Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes. She died in a convent at Nevers in 1879
and was buried in the chapel crypt. In 1909 a commission investigating
her saintliness exhumed her body with the bishop and two doctors as
official witnesses. They were joined by two stonemasons and two
carpenters. All of them swore beforehand to tell the truth of their
findings. They found that the saint’s body was incorrupt. A nun who
had witnessed the burial 30 years before noted that the only change was
that the dead nun’s habit was damp.
was re-buried and exhumed again in 1919. As before, both civil and
religious witnesses were gathered under oath. The doctors who examined
the body wrote: “When the coffin was opened the body appeared to be
absolutely intact and odourless… there was no smell of putrefaction
and none of those present experienced any discomfort.” On a third
exhumation in 1923, the body was found still to be in the same
condition. At that point, the body was opened and the internal organs
were found to be supple. After 46 years, the doctor reported, “the
liver was soft and almost normal in consistency.”
reports no less than 102 stories of incorrupt bodies of Catholic saints.
With so many supposedly incorrupt saints, it is no wonder the devotees
of Pope John XXIII suspected that the preservation of his remains might
be a sign from heaven. Although the Catholic authorities do not deny the
possibility of miraculous preservation of bodies, neither do they place
much stock in it. According to Rome, the strange phenomenon may confirm
holiness but, on its own, the unnatural preservation of bodies does not,
automatically, prove holiness. The authorities, quite sensibly, are more
interested in the person’s virtue.
phenomenon raises many questions. If unnatural preservation is, indeed,
a sign of saintliness, why aren’t all saints supernaturally preserved?
Bernadette and Thérèse of Lisieux were both 19th century French girls
who went into a convent and died of consumption at an early age. St
Bernadette’s body was incorrupt but St Thérèse’s body, at her
exhumation, was reduced to a skeleton in the normal way. Why should one
saint be incorrupt and not the other?
Catholic authorities are right to be cautious in equating
incorruptibility with holiness; a case in point concerns the body of
Cardinal Shuster (1880–1954), a former archbishop of Milan, which was
discovered to be incorrupt after 31 years in the grave. The 1985
exhumation caused some embarrassment as the cardinal was anything but a
saint; he was a friend of Mussolini and supported fascism and Italy’s
war with Abyssinia. Nor does the phenomenon of incorrupt bodies
necessarily prove the claims of Catholicism. When the famous yogi
Paramahansa Yogananda died in California, in 1952, his unembalmed body
had not decayed and was said to emit a beautiful fragrance. Perhaps
there are many incorrupt bodies of holy Protestants, Jews, Muslims and
Buddhists, but we’ll never know because these religions don’t have
the unusual custom of digging up their suspected saints. [Editor’s
note: There are, however, several incorrupt bodies of Buddhist monks
which are preserved as objects of veneration. See FT78:9, 157:23].
are other quirky problems surrounding the phenomenon of incorrupt bodies
of saints. While there is definitely something weird happening, it is
also true that the faithful have perpetuated and sometimes helped the
miracles along. In her defining book, Cruz agrees that some of the
incorrupt bodies were later embalmed; others may have been incorrupt for
hundreds of years only to decay once they were moved, suggesting that
the airtight original container may have preserved the body. Other
‘incorrupt’ bodies have been spliced together with bits of string
and wire; and darkened faces and hands covered with silver or wax,
ostensibly for cosmetic purposes.
When St John of the Cross died in 1591, he was buried in a vault beneath the floor of the church. When the tomb was opened, nine months later, the body was fresh and intact; and when a finger was amputated to use as a relic, the body bled as a living person would have done. When the tomb was opened for a second time nine months after that, the body was still fresh, despite the fact that it had been covered with a layer of quicklime. At further exhumations in 1859 and 1909, the body was found to be still fresh. The last exhumation was in 1955, when the body – after nearly 400 years – was still “moist and flexible” although the skin “was slightly discoloured”.
with most fortean phenomena, the existence of incorrupt bodies has not
been studied seriously by the scientific community. As the phenomenon
also exists outside Catholicism, it may be that in a devoutly religious
person (of whatever persuasion), the practice of prayer and meditation
is merged with the physical discipline of asceticism and abstinence.
Perhaps the physical and the spiritual become intermingled; perhaps, in
some cases, this interpenetration of the spiritual with the physical so
overwhelms the person’s body as to preserve it from natural
corruption. How else may we begin to explain why some bodies do not
decay, despite the fact that the individual has died of a noxious
disease, was not embalmed and was buried for decades in damp conditions
with other corpses that rotted naturally? When we understand how the
mind and body work together, we may also start to understand why some
characters wind up being both dead as a doornail and fresh as a daisy.
WHERE TO SEE THE SAINTS
St Cecilia The saint is buried beneath the high altar of the Basilica of St Cecilia in Rome. While the body is not on display, a sculpture by Stefano Moderno portrays the saint’s body as it was discovered at the second exhumation in 1599. (pictured below)
Etheldreda The incorrupt hand of St Etheldreda can be viewed in St
Etheldreda’s Catholic Church in Ely, Cambridgeshire.
St Bernadette Her incorrupt body can be viewed in its glass casket in the chapel of the convent of St Gildard, Nevers, France. The
To decide merely the facts without deciding whether or not they may be explained by supernatural causes, history tells us that many ecstatics bear on hands, feet, side, or brow the marks of the Passion of Christ with corresponding and intense sufferings. These are called visible stigmata. Others only have the sufferings, without any outward marks, and these phenomena are called invisible stigmata.
Their existence is so well established historically that, as a general thing, they are no longer disputed by unbelievers, who now seek only to explain them naturally. Thus a free-thinking physician, Dr. Dumas, professor of religious psychology at the Sorbonne, clearly admits the facts (Revue des Deux Mondes, 1 May, 1907), as does also Dr. Pierre Janet (Bulletin de l'Institut psychologique international, Paris, July, 1901).
St. Catherine of Siena at first had visible stigmata but through humility she asked that they might be made invisible, and her prayer was heard. This was also the case with St. Catherine de' Ricci, a Florentine Dominican of the sixteenth century, and with several other stigmatics. The sufferings may be considered the essential part of visible stigmata; the substance of this grace consists of pity for Christ, participation in His sufferings, sorrows, and for the same end--the expiation of the sins unceasingly committed in the world. If the sufferings were absent, the wounds would be but an empty symbol, theatrical representation, conducing to pride. If the stigmata really come from God, it would be unworthy of His wisdom to participate in such futility, and to do so by a miracle.
But this trial is far from being the only one which the saints have to endure: "The life of stigmatics," says Dr. Imbert, "is but a long series of sorrows which arise from the Divine malady of the stigmata and end only in death: (op. cit. infra, II, x). It seems historically certain that ecstatics alone bear the stigmata; moreover, they have visions which correspond to their rôle of co-sufferers, beholding from time to time the blood-stained scenes of the Passion.
With many stigmatics these apparitions were periodical, e.g., St. Catherine de' Ricci, whose ecstasies of the Passion began when she was twenty (1542), and the Bull of her canonization states that for twelve years they recurred with minute regularity. The ecstasy lasted exactly twenty-eight hours, from Thursday noon till Friday afternoon at four o'clock, the only interruption being for the saint to receive Holy Communion. Catherine conversed aloud, as if enacting a drama. This drama was divided into about seventeen scenes. On coming out of the ecstasy the saint's limbs were covered with wounds produced by whips, cords etc.
Dr. Imbert has attempted to count the number of stigmatics, with the following results:
1. None are known prior to the thirteenth century. The first mentioned is St. Francis of Assisi, in whom the stigmata were of a character never seen subsequently; in the wounds of feet and hands were excrescences of flesh representing nails, those on one side having round back heads, those on the other having rather long points, which bent back and grasped the skin. The saint's humility could not prevent a great many of his brethren beholding with their own eyes the existence of these wonderful wounds during his lifetime as well as after his death. The fact is attested by a number of contemporary historians, and the feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis is kept on 17 September.
2. Dr. Imbert counts 321 stigmatics in whom there is every reason to believe in a Divine action. He believes that others would be found by consulting the libraries of Germany, Spain, and Italy. In this list there are 41 men.
3. There are 62 saints or blessed of both sexes of whom the best known (numbering twenty-six) were:
4. There were 20 stigmatics in the nineteenth century. The most famous were:
Of these, Marie de Moerl spent her life at Kaltern, Tyrol (1812-68). At the age of twenty she became an ecstatic, and ecstasy was her habitual condition for the remaining thirty-five years of her life. She emerged from it only at the command, sometimes only mental, of the Franciscan who was her director, and to attend to the affairs of her house, which sheltered a large family. Her ordinary attitude was kneeling on her bed with hands crossed on her breast, and an expression of countenance which deeply impressed spectators. At twenty-two she received the stigmata. On Thursday evening and Friday these stigmata shed very clear blood, drop by drop, becoming dry on the other days. Thousands of persons saw Marie de Moerl, among them Görres (who describes his visit in his "Mystik", II, xx), Wiseman, and Lord Shrewsbury, who wrote a defence of the ecstatic in his letters published by "The Morning Herald" and "The Tablet" (cf. Boré, op. cit. infra).
Louise Lateau spent her life in the village of Bois d'Haine, Belgium (1850-83). The graces she received were disputed even by some Catholics, who as a general thing relied on incomplete or erroneous information, as has been established by Canon Thiery ("Examen de ce qui concerne Bois d'Haine", Louvain, 1907). At sixteen she devoted herself to nursing the cholera victims of her parish, who were abandoned by most of the inhabitants. Within a month she nursed ten, buried them, and in more than one instance bore them to the cemetery. At eighteen she became an ecstatic and stigmatic, which did not prevent her supporting her family by working as a seamstress. Numerous physicians witnessed her painful Friday ecstasies and established the fact that for twelve years she took no nourishment save weekly communion. For drink she was satisfied with three or four glasses of water a week. She never slept, but passed her nights in contemplation and prayer, kneeling at the foot of her bed.
The facts having been set forth, it remains to state the explanations that have been offered. Some physiologists, both Catholics and Free-thinkers, have maintained that the wounds might be produced in a purely natural manner by the sole action of the imagination coupled with lively emotions. The person being keenly impressed by the sufferings of the Saviour and penetrated by a great love, this preoccupation acts on her or him physically, reproducing the wounds of Christ. This would in no wise diminish his or her merit in accepting the trial, but the immediate cause of the phenomena would not be supernatural.
We shall not attempt to solve this question. Physiological science does not appear to be far enough advanced to admit a definite solution, and the writer of this article adopts the intermediate position, which seems to him unassailable, that of showing that the arguments in favour of natural explanations are illusory. They are sometimes arbitrary hypotheses, being equivalent to mere assertions, sometimes arguments based exaggerated or misinterpreted facts. But if the progress of medical sciences and psycho-physiology should present serious objections, it must be remembered that neither religion or mysticism is dependent on the solution of these questions, and that in processes of canonization stigmata do not count as incontestable miracles.
No one has ever claimed that imagination could produce wounds in a normal subject; it is true that this faculty can act slightly on the body, as Benedict XIV said, it may accelerate or retard the nerve-currents, but there is no instance of its action on the tissues (De canoniz., III, xxxiii, n. 31). But with regard to persons in an abnormal condition, such as ecstasy or hypnosis, the question is more difficult; and, despite numerous attempts, hypnotism has not produced very clear results. At most, and in exceedingly rare cases, it has induced exudations or a sweat more or less coloured, but this is a very imperfect imitation. Moreover, no explanation has been offered of three circumstances presented by the stigmata of the saints:
To sum up, there is only one means of proving scientifically that the imagination, that is auto-suggestion, may produce stigmata: instead of hypothesis, analogous facts in the natural order must be produced, namely wounds produced apart from a religious idea. This had not been done.
With regard to the flow of blood it has been objected that there have been bloody sweats, but Dr. Lefebvre, professor of medicine at Louvain, has replied that such cases as have been examined by physicians were not due to a moral cause, but to a specific malady. Moreover, it has often been proved by the microscope that the red liquid which oozes forth is not blood; its colour is due to a particular substance, and it does not proceed from a wound, but is due, like sweat, to a dilatation of the pores of the skin. But it may be objected that we unduly minimize the power of the imagination, since, joined to an emotion, it can produce sweat; and as the mere idea of having an acid bon-bon in the mouth produces abundant saliva, so, too, the nerves acted upon by the imagination might produce the emission of a liquid and this liquid might be blood. The answer is that in the instances mentioned there are glands (sudoriparous and salivary) which in the normal state emit a special liquid, and it is easy to understand that the imagination may bring about this secretion; but the nerves adjacent to the skin do not terminate in a gland emitting blood, and without such an organ they are powerless to produce the effects in question. What has been said of the stigmatic wounds applies also to the sufferings. There is not a single experimental proof that imagination could produce them, especially in violent forms.
Another explanation of these phenomena is that the patients produce the wounds either fraudulently or during attacks of somnambulism, unconsciously. But physicians have always taken measures to avoid these sources of error, proceeding with great strictness, particularly in modern times. Sometimes the patient has been watched night and day, sometimes the limbs have been enveloped in sealed bandages. Mr. Pierre Janet placed on one foot of a stigmatic a copper shoe with a window in it through which the development of the wound might be watched, while it was impossible for anyone to touch it (op. cit. supra).