This well known alleged phenomenon relates to the appearance of wounds on a person’s body that are said to mimic those inflicted on Jesus during his crucifixion. These wounds can be quite dramatic and compelling for those inclined to the ostentatious presentation of reputed proofs of scripture. However it must be pointed out that the inconsistencies between manifestations of these wounds would surely indicate to most people that at the very least most are fraudulent.

The variation shown in stigmatic appearances is truly impressive including wounds in the palm, wrist, side (both), scrapes on the shoulder, forehead, cross shapes, words, slits, slashes, small holes, indentations and even blood without any wounds. There appears to be no discernible pattern at all, almost as if people were inflicting themselves according to individual knowledge and available resources. Most common are of course the marks on the palms, these represent where the nails were driven through the flash and into the cross as is predominantly depicted in christian artwork. Unfortunately, it is more likely that the recipient of crucifixion would have had the nails through the wrists instead, the meat of the hand just would not be able to bear the weight and the nails would rip straight through.

While it is impossible to rule out the possibility of a genuine phenomena that is unexplainable outside of theistic spheres, it is also impossible to show that this can only be the case in any example of stigmata. The most likely explanations cover the range from simple scam and mental illness to “Pious Fraud” which justifies a lie in the cause of the greater good. One thing is for sure, stigmata is viewed with enough skepticism that it will likely not be accepted as a reason for missing work.

Resources

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2843/is_4_24/ai_63693003

http://skepdic.com/stigmata.html

http://skeptically.org/skeptics/id2.html

http://mb-soft.com/believe/text/crucifix.htm

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