To accompany our two-part episode on stigmata (part 1 and part 2), we've compiled a gallery of some of the most famous stigmatics in history. All seven of these people claimed to develop bleeding wounds that correspond to those of Jesus Christ's Crucifixion.
A former prisoner of war who took a vow of poverty after a vision from God, Francis had his own order authorized by the Pope in 1210. For years he worked with the poor and sick, including multiple leper colonies. In 1224 while visiting Italy's Mount La Verna he experienced another vision, where a fiery, angelic Christ with five wings inflicted the wounds of the crucifixion on Francis. He never wrote about his stigmata, but two years after his death in 1226, Francis was pronounced a Saint.
The youngest of 25 children, Catherine of Siena's twin sister died immediately after their birth. Catherine grew up caring for the poor, even going so far as to provide them wine from her father's best cask. She also tried to end urban violence between family feuds and was an advisor to the Pope. in 1375 she received the five wounds of the stigmata, which were only visible to herself until after her death.
Catherine's mummified head is still preserved in the Basilica Cateriniana San Domenico in Siena.
A nun who experienced visions of the last twelve hours of Jesus Christ's life, Anne Catherine Emmerich also manifested stigmata in 1812. In addition to the five wounds in her hands, feet and torso, Emmerich also bled from a circle around her head and an imprint of the cross on her chest. The poet Clemens Brentano took notes from her visions of Jesus' Crucifixion, eventually publishing them as "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ." It in turn, was the inspiration for Mel Gibson's 2004 film The Passion of the Christ.
In 1940, Gemma Galgani was the first person canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in the 20th century. Also known as "The Passion Flower of Lucca," Galgani experienced the stigmata every Friday for two years. During her lifetime, some doctors and clergy called her a heretic. But others considered her a miracle worker. Even after her death two people claimed their prayers to her healed their ulcers.
Francesco Forgione was born in the village of Pietrelcina in 1887, but became a Capuchin monk in 1918, taking the name Padre Pio. In addition to his stigmata, Pio was said to be able to prophesize the future, read souls and bilocate his body into two places at once. Doctors certified that his wounds had no natural explanation, but Italian historian Sergio Luzzatto believes Pio used carbolic acid to stimulate the bleeding in his hands.
When she was 20, Therese Neumann survived a horrible fire. But the incident caused her to suffer from paralysis, deafness and blindness. Eight years later, Neumann began to ooze a blood-colored serum from her eyes and the traditional five stigmatic wounds. This continued on Fridays for the rest of her life, especially during the two weeks of Lent. Neumann also claimed to live without any food or drink beyond the Eucharist. Thousands of people visited her each year until her death in 1962.
A former philosophy student from the Croatian island of Krk, Zlatko Sudac was ordained a priest at the age of 27. In addition to his stigmata, Sudac also bears a scar on his forehead of a cross. Like Padre Pio before him, Sudac claims to be able to heal, prophesize and bilocate. As with other stigmatics on this list, Sudac says his stigmata bleeds on the first Friday of every month.