There have been very few books that offer a serious, reliable, thoughtful look at stigmatists, and specifically, what I call visionary stigmatists. Interestingly, almost all Church-approved stigmatists have been just that: visionaries as well as stigmatists. This book focuses on Church-approved stigmatists and their visions, revelations, and prophecies and warnings. In some cases, the prophecies and warnings relate to the End Times and Second Coming of Christ. That includes the striking revelations of the likes of Saint Faustina (1905-38), the first canonized saint of the new millennium. One might rightly interpret the mark of the stigmata (sometimes invisible stigmata, as in the cases of Saints Faustina and Catherine of Siena) as a heavenly/Church affirmation of these saints’ authenticity, likewise adding a certain authenticity to their claimed visions.
It is interesting that many people, including Protestants and even non-Christians, are intrigued by stigmata. It seems that nearly everyone finds claims of stigmata fascinating; there doesn’t seem to be a lot of scoffers. Anytime the notion of stigmata is raised, including by Hollywood (albeit sensationally), eyes are wide open.
This book opens with a comprehensive overview of the phenomenon of stigmata, beginning with the words of St. Paul that some believe might be the first recorded case of stigmata. Aside from St. Paul, Saint Francis (1182-1226) is believed to be the first stigmatist. The opening chapter looks at the data and cases that we know of. Thereafter, the book provides individual chapters focused on figures from Catherine of Siena to Anne Catherine Emmerich, Gemma Galgani, Padre Pio, and more, finishing with Saint Faustina.
Notably, not all of these stigmatic saints had visions of the Final Days. They need not to have changed history. Some of the special visions were along the lines of St. Francis’s transformational conversations with Jesus at the San Damiano cross, which nonetheless had a significant larger purpose: “Francesco,” said Jesus, “ripara la mia Chiesa.” (“Francis, repair my Church.”)
Francis did just that. That was a historic moment for the Church and the faith. Unlike the likes of Martin Luther, Francis endeavored upon a genuine reformation.
These stigmatists and their revelations have spoken to us in profound ways from the time of Christ to the Middle Ages to literally the end times. Truly, there is no more crucial time than now to take a prayerful look at what they’ve told us.
- Paul Kengor, PhD.
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