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Let’s Talk About Stigmatas Essay

1227 words - 5 pages

“Francesco” was an average son of an upper-middle class merchant in 13th century Assisi, until he stripped naked in front of his father and the townspeople claiming that God himself had spoken to him. Before this shocking scene, “Francesco”, later to be referred to as Saint Francis, was in a militia and captured by the Perugians. During his captivity he suffered from a severe illness which moved him to become more religious, and once while praying in a church he heard the voice of God through a crucifix. After this religious experience, Saint Francis sold all of his possessions and gave his money to charity. When he father found out about this and became angered by his actions, it led to the scene presented above. After this Saint Francis led a Christ-like life, with no possessions and also helping the less fortunate. Towards the last two years of his life it is believed that he had the marks of Christ as well, otherwise known as stigmata. Some believe the marks to be directly from God, while others believe that the stigmata were due to illnesses that Saint Francis suffered from or even that Saint Francis gave himself the marks of Christ. However, it is highly likely that the stigmata was originally a metaphor about the Saint’s Christ-like life that eventually developed into the idea that he actually had the marks of Christ on his body.
In Morris Bishop’s Saint Francis of Assisi, he argues that there is no way that Francis could have consciously self-inflicted the stigmata on himself. Not only would it be extremely painful, but why would Saint Francis make a mockery of his savior by placing the marks of Christ on himself? Morris answers this question by stating: “Francis was no charlatan, and the supposition that he would make a charlatan’s game out of the dealings with his Savior is incredible” (Morris, 174). With this statement it is clear that Morris firmly believes that Francis would not have placed the mark of Christ upon himself knowningly because this would be a mockery of his Savior. He takes a very psychological approach when assessing the stigmata of Saint Francis of Assisi stating: “But I suspect here [traumatic neurosis] lies the clue to the nature of the stigmata, and perhaps to the troubles and tortures and glories of Francis of Assisi” (Morris, 177). To fully understand what Morris is suggesting, it is important to know that traumatic neurosis is a mental disorder following an accident, injury, or traumatic event. Morris believes that when suffering from this Francis inflicted this wounds upon himself subconsciously in order to prove himself as something to his father and his brother.
Another position on the stigmata of Saint Francis held by Adrian House suggests that the stigmata was due to illnesses such as leprosy and tuberculosis. House cites Sr. Joanne Schatzlein and Dr. Daniel Silmasy’s view that because he devoted himself to helping the outsiders of society, mainly the lepers, he had contracted leprosy from them. Saint...

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