Saint Catherine of Ricci, a stigmatic, unfolds the Passion of Christ in 17 scenes that lasts 28 hours, 'conversed aloud as if enacting a drama.'
Considered as one of the most notable stigmatic of the 20th century, Saint Fr.
The disparities between the holy stigmatic and the self-cutter are far less evident than the similarities.
Lugarte (1182-1426), born a year after Francis of Assisi, was chronicled as the first female stigmatic. of those afflicted with bodily wounding referent to Christ, approximately 88% have been women.
Bell lists several young women, all of Italian descent, all stigmatic, some of whom would purge and vomit, and exhibit propensities towards "self-mutilation, and severe "dietary constriction." He glorifies "holy anorexia" as part of a "wider pattern of heroic, ascetic masochism amply justified" in the literature of radical Christian religiosity, (28) yet he contradicts any sublimation of the stigmata by documenting chronicled aberrances through "ambiguous hagiographical sources." If there is an overreaching premise to Bell's book, it is less a work of innovative ethnography than a well-researched overview of various stigmatic women, saintly and otherwise, who practiced fasting and meditation, long deemed a formidable prerequisite for achieving transcendence.
The self-cutter and holy stigmatic have analogous influences and their experiences are "often reduced to the "symbolisms" (36) that [are] defined by "cultural constructions of meaning and morality," (37) or, in essence, "learning, expectations, and beliefs." (38) The misogynistic treatment of women by men and the Church during the Middle Ages is no secret.
As Ian MacInnes notes in his study of the Nun of Portugal (an early modern stigmatic), Augustine developed the idea of sin as a wound that only the physician Christ can heal (385); paradoxically, in Augustine's view, Christ's wounds were the "medicine for human sin, itself conceived of as a wound" (387).
(7) In her study of the medieval stigmatic Elisabeth of Spalbeek, Sandra ZimdarsSwartz points out how common it was for a female stigmatic's spiritual experiences to emerge "in the context of severe illness" (29).
Negating the "thrill-complex for the extraordinary" that clouded the perspective of modern Christians, Kreuter challenged Theresa's audience: "God does not send these wounds for the stigmatic
person only, but also, and more particularly, for the sake of those who witness them or even of those who hear or read of them." (43) Ultimately, Kreuter's emphasis on interior spiritual renewal led him to insist that it was Theresa's intense prayer life, resulting from her surrender to God's will, that was more significant than her stigmata.