Strange Things in Christianity: Stigmata, Padre Pio, Incorruptables and the Flying Monk

Home | Category: Saints in Medieval Europe / Monks, Nuns and Relics / Catholics


Saint Francis receiving the stigmata

Baron Albert von Schrenk-Notzing reported in the 20th century that Willy Schneider, a famous German medium, "rose horizontally and seemed to rest on an invisible cloud. He ascended to the ceiling and remained five minutes suspended there, moving his legs about rhythmically. The descent was as sudden as the uplifting. The supervision was perfect." Later, A group of German photographers claimed they took a picture of a human spirit leaving the body of a 32-year-old woman who died on the operating table.

To some these are miracles. A miracle is defined by the Catholic Church as an "inexplicable recovery" that is "sudden, complete and lasting." Peter Stanford wrote for the BBC: “At various Marian shrines around the world, for instance, the Catholic Church believes that a small number of miracle cures of illness have been effected. [Source: Peter Stanford, BBC, June 29, 2011 |::|]

Miracles have always played a big part in winning converts to Christianity. They have come in the form of bleeding paintings of the Virgin Mary, talking images, miracle-working icons and saint's bones and frescoes that have been scraped off the wall and mixed with water and oils poured through the coffins of dead saints and drunk as a medicine.

British historian Robin Cormack wrote in the New York Times, "What could better demonstrate Christ's life on earth than a picture that shared all his powers of healing? Who needed to listen to theological quibbling over the nature of Christ if an icon could speak a thousand words?" In the early church miracles were performed by saints while they were alive. Later on, beginning in medieval times, most miracles were attributed to saints and others after they died.

Websites and Resources on Christianity BBC on Christianity ; Candida Moss at the Daily Beast Daily Beast Christian Answers ; Christian Classics Ethereal Library ; Sacred Texts website ; Internet Medieval Sourcebook ; Saints and Their Legends: A Selection of Saints libmma.contentdm ; Lives of the Saints - Orthodox Church in America ; Lives of the Saints: ;

St. Joseph of Copertino, the Flying Friar

St. Joseph of Copertino (1603-1663) is know as the Flying Friar. The son of a carpenter, he was born in a stable like Jesus. In school he was known as "Open Mouth" because of his habit of staring at the heavens with his mouth agape. As a teenager he martyred himself by sleeping on boards, whipping himself, and wearing the coarsest hair shirt.

According to Live Science: “In the 1600s, the saint and mystic St. Joseph of Cupertino entered into a religious trance and reportedly began hovering over the crowds. He apparently experienced this levitation multiple times — one time in front of Pope Urban VIII. As a result of his flying exploits, this mystic is the patron saint of pilots. In more recent history, other instances of levitation have been revealed as visual illusions, hoaxes or hallucinations.” [Source: Live Science, July 9, 2013]

Saint Joseph of Copertino

At the age of 17, Joseph became a Capuchin monk but he lasted only a few months because trances and visions kept him from performing his chores. He later joined another order and was ordained a priest at the age of 25. He maintained his acetic lifestyle, whipping himself with a whip impregnated with pins and pieces of metal and covering his food with salt and an awful bitter powder.

After nearly being defrocked and charged with heresy by the inquisition Joseph rose in the air with a loud shriek while praying one day in a church. He floated forward in a cross-like position and landed on an alter, covered with flowers and candles. He then rose again and returned to his original position.

News of the miracle spread and he was summoned he summoned before Pope Urban VIII. Joseph kissed the pontiff's feet and was so ecstatic about the experience he rose into the air. Later he was sent to Assisi where he was observed flying 15 meters through a church, embracing a painting of the Virgin Mary. On another occasion he cured a madman after lifting him in the air. Sometimes when Joseph went into a trance he woke up floating in the air. He also reportedly could read people's minds and conducted confessions without anyone saying anything.

Johann Friedreich, the Duke of Brunswick, Prospero Lambertini (the future Pope Benedict XIV) and many others are reported to have witnessed St. Joseph fly into the air and land on some burning candles. A group of nuns, who were there, screamed out, "he will catch on fire," but he returned to the ground un harmed. Lambertini wrote: "Whilst I was discharging the office of promotor fide ...eyewitnesses of exceptional integrity reported on the celebrated levitations and remarkable flights of the servants of God when in a condition of ecstatic rapture."

Joseph was called "most aerial of saints" and had over 100 flights ascribed to him. He was reported to have picked up the sick and carried an18-foot cross and animals aloft with him. He sometimes hovered above the trees and once sailed around a refectory while waving a sea urchin. Not surprisingly Joseph is the patron saint of aviators.


Incorruptibles are saints who were selected for sainthood not so much because of their good works but because there bodies failed to decay even when they were interned for decades or centuries. In some cases, it was said, the bodies were so astonishingly well preserved they looked as if they were still alive when they were dug up. Around half of the 100 or so Incorrupibles lie in reliquaries in Catholic churches in Italy. The others are in France, Spain, Poland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, India, Peru, Lebanon and other places around the globe.

Chemists, pathologists, radiologists and other doctors — hired by Vatican office that investigates saints — have carefully examined the bodies of some Incorruptibles. They found that most of the bodies clearly had been mummified using procedures similar to those used by the Egyptians but some had been preserved apparently without being tampered with. Some of these resisted decay were kept in extremely dry places or containers. Others were bathed in floodwaters of highly alkaline waters which acted as a preservative. Others offered no plausible explanation. Perhaps it as the work of God

Famous Incorruptible Saints

St Bernadette of Lourdes (died 1879) was born Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France. From February to July 1858, she reported eighteen apparitions of “a Lady.” Despite initial doubts from the Roman Catholic Church, these claims were declared credible belief after a canonical investigation. After her death, Bernadette’s body remained “incorruptible”, and the shrine at Lourdes became a major pilgrimage site, attracting millions of Catholics each year. [Source: Jamie Frater. Listverse, August 21, 2007 ]

incoruptable body of St Bernadette of Lourdes

St. Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney (1786 –1859) was a French parish priest who became a Catholic saint and the patron saint of parish priests. He is often referred to, even in English, as the “Curé d’Ars” (the parish priest of the village of Ars). He became famous internationally for his priestly and pastoral work in his parish due to the radical spiritual transformation of the community and its surroundings.

St Silvan died around A.D. 350. Little known about his life other than he was martyred and his body remarkably preserved despite being over 1,600 years old.

Saint Veronica Giuliani (Veronica de Julianis) (1660-1727) was an Italian mystic born at Mercatello in the Duchy of Urbino in present-day Italy. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, she showed signs of sanctity from an early age. Her legend states that she was only eighteen months old, she uttered her first words to upbraid a shopman who was serving a false measure of oil, saying distinctly: “Do justice, God sees you.”

Saint Zita (1212 – 1272) is the patron saint of maids and domestic servants. She is also appealed to in order to help find lost keys. Zita often said to others that devotion is false if slothful. She considered her work as an employment assigned her by God, and as part of her penance, and obeyed her master and mistress in all things as being placed over her by God. She always rose several hours before the rest of the family and employed in prayer a considerable part of the time which others gave to sleep.

Blessed Anna Maria Taigi (1769 - 1837) was an Italian Roman Catholic and member of the Secular Trinitarians. She experienced a series of ecstasies during her life and was known to have heard the voices of God and Jesus Christ on several occasions. Taigi became a Secular Trinitarian after experiencing a sudden religious conversion in winter 1790 while at Saint Peter's Basilica and came into contact with a range of cardinals and luminaries which included Saint Vincenzo Strambi and Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget amongst others

Anne Marie Taigi at Saint Chysogone

Taigi died in 1837 after a period of illness after receiving the Viaticum and the Anointing of the Sick from the local curate. Her remains were exposed until 11 June in the church of Santa Maria in Via Lata and was buried at Campo Verano where - on the orders of Gregory XVI - her remains were enclosed in a leaden sepulcher with seals affixed to it. Cardinal Pedicini often visited her tomb while the Capuchin Cardinal Ludovico Micara always kept an image of her on his person. The Minim priest Venerable Bernardo Clausi said of her: "If she is not in Heaven, there is no room there for anybody". Saint Vincenzo Pallotti praised her after she died for her saintliness and life of holiness. Her remains were transferred to the Basilica of San Crisogono in 1865 after it was discovered that she wanted to be buried there. In 1868 her remains were found intact though her clothes had decayed for the most part so was replaced. In 1920 her remains were found no longer incorrupt.

See Padre Pio Below


Stigmata is the technical term for wounds that are spontaneously produced on the parts of the body of a religious follower that correspond with the places that Jesus was injured during the crucifixion. They include the places on his hands and feet, where he was nailed to the cross, his forehead where he was scraped by the crown of the thorns and the side where he was jabbed by the Roman centurion.

Candida Moss wrote in the Daily Beast: The origin of the term stigmata is Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, in which he declares, “I bear on my body the marks (stigma) of Jesus,” but the first recorded case of stigmata was Francis of Assisi (namesake of Pope Francis and founder of the order of Franciscans). Most reported cases of stigmata involve bleeding from the sites of the “holy wounds”: the wrists or feet (from the nails used to attach Jesus to the cross), or from the side (from the lance that pierced Jesus in the Gospel of John). [Source: Candida Moss, Daily Beast, November 12, 2017]

Most stigmatics are members of Roman Catholic religious orders and, according to Michael Carroll’s Catholic Cults and Devotions, about 80 percent of them are women. More rarely, stigmata involves wounds to the head, from where the crown of thorns was pushed into Jesus’ scalp, marks on the back that are associated with the scourging received before his death, and crying or sweating blood. Some stigmatics claim to feel the pain of the wounds without exhibiting any outward signs of being wounded.

Stigmata Cases

20120508-Francisco_de_asissi _y_el_herman.jpg
St. Francis of Assisi
Stigmata is usually associated with holy individuals. Stigmata has occurred to over 330 people, most them nuns, priest and monks. The Catholic church is reluctant to recognize stigmata as miraculous. Still more than 60 people who have reportedly experienced it have been beatified. Among them are St. Catherine of Siena and St. Francis of Assisi (See Above), who two years before his death, had a vision of "fiery angel with six wings carrying a crucified man," after which he had wounds in his hands and feet and spear wound in his side. Stygmata wounds appeared on the hands, feet, sides and forehead of the Italian Saint St. Gemma Galgani (1878-1903) at the age of 21 after he had a vision of St. Gabriel Possenti while suffering from severe tuberculosis in his spine.

The most recent case of stigmata in Germany involved a 20-year-old German women named Therese Neuman. In 1926, six years after becoming blind and bedridden after she helped put out a fire, she developed stigmata below her eyes, heart and hands.

Other cases of stigmata were reported on Anna Katharina Emmerich (1774-1824), a German nun and cow keeper who, at the age of 37, always bled on Friday, developed wounds on her hands, side as well as puncture marks from the crown of thorns on her head; and Maria von Mörl, a German woman whose stigmata on her hands, feet and side were seen by more than 40,000 people.

St. Francis and Stigmata

St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) was one of the greatest figures of Christianity and founder of the Franciscan order of monks. He lived an ascetic life of poverty, was famous for his love of all creatures and preached compassion and love for the poor, dispossessed and outcasts.

Late in life St. Francis became a Jesus-like figure.His biographer Thomas of Celano wrote: “During the time when, as we have seen, the venerable father Francis preached to the birds, he went about through cities and towns scattering the seeds of his blessing everywhere. Coming to the city of Ascoli, he preached the word of God fervently as usual. Through a change wrought by the right hand of the Most high, the people were filled with so much love and devotion that they trampled one another hurrying to see and hear him. And thirty men, clerics and laymen, received the habit at that time. So great was the faith of men and w omen, and so great was their devotion to the holy man of God, that they considered fortunate anyone who could at least touch his clothes. When he entered a city, the clergy rejoiced, the bells rang, men exulted, women cheered, children applauded, and often, taking branches from the trees, they went to meet him singing.

In 1224, two years before his death, St. Francis went on a 40-day fast. While he was praying his Bible fell open to the story of Jesus’s passion. St. Francis had a vision in which he saw a flaming angel with six wings carrying a crucified man near Mount Alverno in the Apennines. After going into an state of ecstacy stigmata appeared in the form of wounds on his hands and feet and side. On September 17, 1224, the Franciscan, Brother Leo, reported a ray of light was cast on St. Francis and after that he bore stigmata marks on his hands and feet. Two popes — Gregory IX and Alexander IV — confirmed the reports. Today, some see the stigmata as a culmination of a career devoted to faith, and a bond with the crucified Christ.

Thomas of Celano wrote: “Two years before Francis gave his soul back to heaven, while he was staying in a hermitage called "Alverna" after the place where it was located, he saw in a vision from God a man with six wings like a seraph, standing above him with hands extended and feet together, affixed to a cross. Two wings were raised over his head, two were extended in flight, and two hid his entire body. [Source: Translation by David Burr,]

“When the blessed servant of God saw these things he was filled with wonder, but he did not know w hat the vision meant. He rejoiced greatly in the benign and gracious expression with which he saw himself regarded by the seraph, whose beauty was indescribable; yet he was alarmed by the fact that the seraph was affixed to the cross and was suffering terribly. Thus Francis rose, one might say, sad and happy, joy and grief alternating in him. He wondered anxiously w hat this vision could mean, and his soul was uneasy as it searched for understanding. And as his understanding sought in vain for an explanation and his heart was filled with perplex it y at the great novelty of this vision, the marks of nails began to appear in his hands and feet, just as he had seen them slightly earlier in the crucified man above him.

“His hands and feet seemed to be pierced by nails, with the heads of the nails appearing in the palms of his hands and on the upper sides of his feet, the points appearing on the other side. The marks were round on the palm of each hand but elongated on the other side, and small pieces of flesh jutting out from the rest took on the appearance of the nail-ends, bent and driven back. In the same way the marks of nails were impressed on his feet and projected beyond the rest of the flesh. Moreover, his right side had a large wound as if it had been pierced with a spear, and it often bled so that his tunic and trousers were soaked with his sacred blood.

“Alas, how few were worthy of viewing the wound I n the side of this crucified servant of the crucified Lord I How fortunate was Elias, who was worthy of seeing it while the holy man lived, but no less fortunate was Rufinus, who touched the wound with his own hands. For once, when the aforesaid brother Rufinus put his hand on the holy man's chest in order to rub him, his hand fell to his right side, as often occurs, and he happened to touch that precious wound.

Padre Pio

Padre Pio

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio, 1887-1968) was an Italian Capuchin friar, faith healer and mystic. He reportedly predicted the future, performed numerous miracles and possessed the wounds of stygmata of Christ. Born Francesci Forgione, he served as a military chaplin in World War I after become a Capuchin monk at the age 19. He died in 1968 at the age of 81 and was declared a saint in 2002.

According to the BBC: Saint Pio was credited with thousands of miraculous cures during his lifetime, and is still venerated as a miracle-worker. For years the Vatican opposed the cult which grew up around Padre Pio, but then changed its attitude, granting him the highest honour possible after his death: full sainthood. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002 and his feast day falls on 23rd September. [Source: BBC, September 11, 2009 |::|]

“Pio was said to have known what penitents would confess to him. He reportedly wrestled with the devil in his cell. In granting him sainthood, the Church officially recognised two of his miracles: the curing of an 11-year-old boy who was in a coma and the medically inexplicable recovery of a woman with lung disease. |::|

“Pio is revered for having borne stigmata: permanent wounds on his hands and feet like those Christ suffered at the crucifixion. He lived for decades with these bleeding wounds. Doctors never found a medical explanation for the injuries, which never healed but never became infected. Pio's followers said he bore the wounds of the crucified Christ.” |::|

Padre Pio's Stigmata and Issues with His Miracles

In 1912, at the age of 25, Padre Pio began complaining of having pains in his hands, feet and side for no reason. Three years after that he collapsed while praying and stigmata wounds appeared and a photograph was circulated that showed blood dripping from his palms while blessing a congregation.

The stigmata reportedly lasted from 1920 to 1968, with Padre Pio losing about a cup of blood every day. Doctors were unable to explain why blood oozed from his wounds for more than half a century without him being cut and why the wounds closed and left no scares after he died. Padre Pio received a lot of attention in the 1960s when he reportedly cured a mother of four of throat cancer. One another occasion a girl lost her finger and it reportedly grew back after putting on one of Padre Pio's gloves. He also reportedly predicted the selection of Pope John Paul II as the pontiff and attempt on his life on 1981.

Padre Pio also reportedly gave off strange odors that would linger for hours on anything he touched; had the ability to pear into people's souls and hear there their confessions without them uttering a word; had the gift of bilocation (appearing in two places at once); and was able to mystically fly (in World War II he reportedly rescued an Italian pilot whose plane was struck by enemy fire).

Padre Pio was suspended twice by the Vatican because his activities were embarrassing to the church. He was investigated by a papal commission which determined he was a fraud. The stigmata wore allegedly produced with a conjuring trick and many of his miracles were attributed to auto-suggestion. In the 1950s and 50s, Padre Pio was involved in a shady high-interest financial scandal that left several monasteries in financial ruin. Right-wing groups used his name to raise funds. He reportedly engaged in sexual discussions with women in the confession box and encouraged "pious women" to spend time with him.

Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo, Foggio, Italy

Padre Pio's Canonization

Padre Pio died in 1968. A cult grew up around him and his black marble tomb in the southern Italian village of San Giovanni Rotondo, where he founded a major hospital and attracted millions of visitors. The hospital, called the House of Relief of Suffering, earns millions from selling kitschy items with Padre Pio's picture. In 1999, Padre Pio was beatified by Pope John Paul II after a woman who recovered from a burst lymph vessel after praying to Padre Pio after he died was declared miraculous.

According to the BBC: “Pio was canonised by the late Pope John Paul II in 2002. John Paul II was said to have a special affection for Padre Pio, and as a young man travelled to his monastery in southern Italy for confession. The approval of Padre Pio's sainthood took place in record time, but during his lifetime many in the Church doubted claims of his miraculous cures and suggested he was a fraud. [Source: BBC, September 11, 2009 |::|]

“Even before his canonisation, Padre Pio's former monastery at San Giovanni Rotondo had become a major site of pilgrimage for Catholics from around the world. His shrine there receives eight million visitors a year. Pio's image is displayed in homes, shops, garages - even on the backs of trucks - in many parts of Italy.” |::|

Padre Pio Named Patron Saint of Stress Relief

The BBC reported: “In 2007 the Catholic Enquiry Office (CEO) in London declared Saint Pio as the patron saint of stress relief and the January blues. This followed research from a health psychologist at Cardiff University that named 22 January as the single most depressing day of that year. The formula is based on the poorest weather, seasonal debt, the anti-climax after Christmas, the abandonment of New Year's resolutions and the dates when motivation levels hit rock bottom — and the date chosen is always a Monday. [Source: BBC, September 11, 2009 |::|]

“The CEO launched Don't Worry Be Happy Day in response. They chose Saint Pio to lead it because they believe his most famous catchphrase,"Pray, hope and don't worry", is particularly appropriate to the winter blues. Claire Ward from the CEO said: We see this phrase as providing the all-time January pick-me-up slogan. Spiritual things can connect with modern day life and every day issues. The spiritual journey is at the heart of all of our experiences from the post-Christmas blues to marking key moments in our lives. |

“She claims that prayer is an important aid to relaxation regardless of one's personal beliefs about God. Gathering one's thoughts and having a quiet time, she says, brings new hope. In turn, this helps to offset worries and gives people a new perspective on life. St Pio is the perfect saint for Don't Worry Be Happy day. He was a man who suffered in many ways but because he discovered that all of life has a purpose, he found a deep joy and lasting peace that he wanted to share with others. Brother Loarne, National Shrine of Saint Pio in Pantasaph, North Wales |::|

Is Sweating Blood a Kind Of Stigmata

Candida Moss wrote in the Daily Beast: A young woman presents herself at a hospital in Florence complaining of inexplicable bleeding from her face and hands. Doctors who examine the 21-year-old Italian woman can find no evidence of abrasions or lesions on her face or appendages. For three years the spontaneous bleeding continued. To confuse the matter further there were no obvious triggers; in the October issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal her doctors explained that this bleeding would happen when she physically exerted herself, but it would also occur when she was sleeping. [Source: Candida Moss, Daily Beast, November 12, 2017]

young Padre Pio with the stigmata

Sweating blood is not technically a wound inflicted upon Jesus immediately before or during his crucifixion, but it does have biblical roots. According to Luke 24:43-44, as Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest, a strengthening angel appears and he starts to sweat “drops like blood.” Even though this detail only appears in one of the Gospels, it has captured the popular imagination: several modern languages, including French and German, use the metaphor “to sweat blood.”

The interesting thing, though, is that these two verses are omitted in many of the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament. Dr. Hugh Houghton, director of Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing at the University of Birmingham, told The Daily Beast that “the detail about Jesus’ sweat being like drops of blood in Luke 22:43-4 goes back to early Christian tradition, [but]it is unlikely to have been part of the original text of Luke’s Gospel. It is missing from two papyri and the most important early… manuscripts of Luke.” This isn’t a new observation, either, as early as the fifth century Christian writers began to ask questions about the strange history of these verses.

W know very little about the woman who “sweats” blood from her forehead and feet. We don’t know if she is religious, much less Catholic. According to the medical report, her condition has apparently alienated her from others and has led to panic attacks and bouts of depression. Fortunately, by providing a medical (rather than spiritual) evaluation, doctors realized that there’s a quick fix for her stigmata. According to the article, a beta blocker for high blood pressure led to a marked reduction in her symptoms.

Doubts About Stigmata

Candida Moss wrote in the Daily Beast: Their lack of presence in the documentary record raises some questions about the phenomenon of stigmata. If these verses aren’t original to the Gospel of Luke and somebody added this into the New Testament, then we can say with some certainty that this event never happened. If it did not, we have to wonder what is going on with the stigmata; how can people experience holy wounds that Jesus himself never felt? Are they faking it or does intense spiritual meditation enable them to manifest sympathetic wounds? [Source: Candida Moss, Daily Beast, November 12, 2017]

Not every New Testament scholar agrees that these verses are secondary. Claire Clivaz, a distinguished text critic, argues in her book L’ange et la sueur de sang (Lc 22,43-44) ou comment on pourrait bien encore écrire l’histoire that these verses are authentic. For Clivaz the reason the verses were omitted from early manuscripts is because they were popular with a group of Christians that the scribes viewed as heretics. Even if the verses are authentic, this doesn’t mean that this detail is historically accurate. Only the Gospel of Luke mentions this element of the story, and this makes it less likely to be true.

Even if we put aside the issue with the manuscripts, there’s a similar problem when it comes to stigmata associated with the nails in Jesus’ hands. One of the most famous medieval stigmatics was Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, an early 20th century Italian friar and mystic. Over 50 years Padro Pio experienced first a painful mark and then bleeding from his feet and the palms of his hands. In the aftermath of World War I Padre Pio became a beloved symbol of hope, but a number of people both religious and non-religious accused him of faking his wounds. In his book The Other Christ: Padre Pio and 19th Century Italy, historian Sergio Luzzatto accused Padre Pio of using carbolic acid to manufacture the wounds (the Catholic Church countered that he used the carbolic acid to sterilize syringes for vaccinations).

20120508-stigmata St Francis Assisi stigmata.jpg
stigmata of St. Francis
What’s strange about Padre Pio’s wounds is that he, like Francis of Assisi, bled from the palm of his hands. On the face of it, this makes sense, Catholic crucifixes and Western art depict Jesus as nailed to the cross through the palm of his hands. Most scholars, however, think that Jesus was nailed to the cross through his wrist bones (a sturdier anchor point for the weight of his body). The biblical passages that describe the nailing of Jesus use a Greek word that could equally refer to the hand or the wrist, so the problem is not with the text itself. But this interpretative mistake does raise some questions about stigmatics who bleed from the palms of their hands. If the wounds don’t correspond to the historical crucifixion, do they have religious significance at all?

The situation is only complicated by the existence of both non-Christian stigmata and, now, a medical explanation. The authors of the recent CMAJ article have diagnosed the woman with hematohidrosis, a rare medical phenomenon in which “blood sweat” is discharged through unbroken skin. They cite a 2009 article from the Indian Journal of Dermatology in which “acute fear and intense mental contemplation” are identified as “the most frequent causes” of this kind of bleeding. The phenomenon has been observed in prisoners awaiting execution and was noted as early as Aristotle, who described sweat that “either looked like or really was, blood.”

None of this means that this new Florentine case of hematohidrosis is or is not also stigmata (real or faked). The Roman Catholic Church believes that God can work miracles through natural phenomenon, so this isn’t a silver bullet in the religious interpretation of stigmata.

Image Sources: Wikimedia, Commons

Text Sources: Internet Medieval Sourcebook ; “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File); “ Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); King James Version of the Bible,; New International Version (NIV) of The Bible,; Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) , Frontline, PBS, Wikipedia, BBC, National Geographic, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Live Science,, Archaeology magazine, Reuters, Associated Press, Business Insider, AFP, Library of Congress, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated March 2024

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of country or topic discussed in the article. This constitutes 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you are the copyright owner and would like this content removed from, please contact me.