Alan Bleasdale Alan Bleasdale worked as a schoolteacher before turning to writing. The character would later be turned in to a stage play, two novels and a television series.
Any stigma, as the old saying is, will serve to beat a dogma. Philip Guedalla Historically, one of the most impressive pieces of miraculous evidence for divine favour has been the occurrence of stigmata.
Stigmata are wounds, similar to those suffered by Jesus before and during his crucifixion, that are found on the bodies of some devout Christians. These wounds appear, allegedly without any physical agency, in men or women, many of whom also experience divine visions.
Stigmata are regarded by the faithful as supernatural phenomena and as evidence of the truth of the Christian religion. The correspondence between the wounds of Jesus and the stigmatic is regarded as evidence of their heavenly provenance.
But there are problems here. At least some stigmatics lack verisimilitude, for some display their spear wounds on the right side, while others have them on the left. Other wounds have always matched the wounds represented in crucifixion scenes of art rather than the actual wounds suffered by Jesus.
Thus nail holes for example appear through the palm of the hand, though it is now known that crucifixion victims were nailed through the wrists. A cynic might be led to suspect some sort of psychosomatic agency for stigmata. Certainly, women with hysterical personalities seem particularly prone to them 2.
The only other explanation would seem to be downright fraud, for it is difficult to see how, throughout the centuries, God himself could have confused historical fact with inaccurate medieval artistic representation.
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This illustration shows how crucifiction victims were nailed through the wrists - establishing that no alleged stigmatic has accurately imitated a genuine crucifiction. Stigmatics' nail holes are also innacurate.
It is now known that crucifiction victims were nailed through the heel.
The photgraph below shows top how the nail was placed, based on below an archaeological find - the heel bone of Yehohanan ben Hagkol, a Jewish resident of Jerusalem, crucified in AD 21, IIsrael Museum, Cradle of Christianity: Treasures from the Holy Land.
There are other suspicious features. No stigmatic was ever reported before Saint Francis displayed his characteristic wounds in Medieval times. Since then, dozens of stigmatics have appeared.
Many clearly suffered from mental problems, and claimed to have experienced visions. None has ever had their claims scientifically tested. Even odder is the fact that there are distinct differences in the reported phenomena. For example Saint Francis manifested not only nail holes, but also the nails still in the holes.
No one else did. Here is what the Catholic Encyclopedia says about stigmata:: 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.
It is, incidentally, known that Church authorities have in the past faked stigmata. Friar John Letser, for example, had his stigmata painted on in by Dominicans in Berne. The Dominicans had chosen Berne specifically because of its gullible population.A brief history of the "clenched fist" image Lincoln Cushing, Docs Populi Note: This document is a work in progress, originally generated for the "Battle Emblems" exhibit at San Francisco's Intersection for the Arts February-March I would especially like to thank Michael Rossman of the AOUON archive, exhibit organizer Kevin Chen, and illustrator Frank Cieciorka for their invaluable.
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