Article XVIII: Aftermath - The Stigmata

Written by:
Jacob King

I remember thinking an image divinely slapped on a piece of cactus cloth is one thing, but Edward Bleedinghands over here is at a whole other level of extraterrestrial… 

What IS this thing called the stigmata??

After researching this wild and weird phenomena and the possible reasons behind it (some people think it’s caused by some chemical means or self-inflicted wounds), I discovered the spiritual elite claim the stigmata truly happens when the resurrected Voice gives a close believer the marks imprinted upon Jesus himself when he submitted to the horror of the ancient practice of crucifixion. These marks are precisely where the nails were hammered through Jesus’ hands and feet to secure him to the wood of his humiliating torture-instrument. 

The stigmata is asserted by mystics to have been given to unique individuals to further communicate God’s existence and prove the Resurrected One is still very much with us. Yet not-so-coincidentally, these “stigmatists” always seem to appear when our spiritual-ape family is in deep trouble, suffering tremendously, and most in need of this reminder. And I think the 20th century fits that description quite well.

Only a handful have ever had first hand experience with the phenomenon of the stigmata, like the animal-famous Francis of Assisi who was the first recorded stigmatist, but none have claimed it in our modern age and, more importantly, none have been subjected to scientific analysis… leaving you with that sneaking suspicion that this stigmata stuff could be a real medieval triple-stacked baloney sandwich.… That is until Padre Pio.

Pio described in a letter the moment he received these strange wounds:

I was sitting in the choir… when I was overtaken by a repose, similar to a deep sleep. All of my senses, both internal and external, as well as the faculties of my soul were steeped in an indescribable peace. As I was in this state, I saw before my very eyes a mysterious Being… His look frightened me. I experienced something that I don’t know how to describe. I felt like I was dying, and I would have died if the Lord had not intervened to strengthen my heart, which was ready to burst out of my chest… When the mysterious creature left, I found that my hands, feet, and side had been pierced and were bleeding.

And once word spread of Pio's stigmata, it was as if a bomb exploded, with a number of miracles being attributed to Pio and his unique marks. Journalists, the-rich-and-the-famous, and the merely curious flooded upon his small monastery in the mountains of Italy – including skeptical scientists who were coming to disprove this medieval hocus pocus. They theorized that the continuous bleeding and open wounds were either artificially maintained by some chemical means or produced by a neuropathic “morbid state of mind” — meaning he unconsciously caused them by thinking too much about Jesus on the cross. To all of this skepticism, and to one scientist in particular, Padre Pio once responded: “Tell him to think intensely about being an ox. Let’s see if he grows horns.” Stigmata or not, this dude was funny.

Yet, looking at the evidence, the attempts to scientifically dismiss these wounds by “the phenomena of suggestion” turned out to be… a failure of epic proportions. Here’s some of what doctors and scientist’s unearthed about these marks:

The marks were real, deep wounds that were present every day for FIFTY YEARS without healing over or ever becoming infected.

Dr. Luigi Romanelli, physician-in-chief at the local hospital, was the first to examine the stigmata and stated: “I am convinced without a doubt that the wounds are not superficial… the wound is bleeding profusely, and the blood is arterial blood…”

Dr. Festa, the next physician to examine Pio, reported: “They are not subject to infection or decomposition, do not result in the death of any living tissue… do not change, do not form any scar tissue, and remain unchanged for years and years, against all biological laws and nature.”

An illustrious and famous doctor (who also happened to be an atheist) Amico Bignami, a professor of pathology at the University of Rome said that if iodine wasn’t used on his wounds as disinfectant for a week, the wounds would most certainly heal up. This was obvious for Dr. Bignami because for him fairy tales such as God and miraculous wounds didn’t exist… To which Pio said, ‘Hold my beer.’ The iodine-free experiment was ordered to be carried out with the utmost diligence; and so, to everyone’s surprise (especially Dr. Bignami’s), “the last day when Pio’s bandages were taken off for good, so much blood was dripping from his hands that we had to send for some rags to wipe up the blood.” Super gross — but not a bad way to slam dunk your truth.

Another phenomenon was the lack of a foul smell that usually accompanies decomposing blood:

Dr. Festa detailed that “anyone who has any experience with preserving meat from dead animals knows that you have to make sure that you drain the blood very well in order to avoid unpleasant odors.” Continuing his report Dr. Festa stated, “Of all organic tissue, blood is the one that decomposes most rapidly…This phenomenon, in all its simplicity and with the eloquence that it lends to our study, is, nonetheless, contrary to all the laws of nature and science.”

But his deep and constantly bleeding wounds of 18,225 days weren’t just without a rancid odor; the blood coming from the wounds even had an overpowering scent of… violet flowers. 

This surreal scent that should have for all intents and purposes smelled way worse than your unwashed lucky socks has been verified by hundreds of testimonies reporting this celestial-smelling phenomenon. The most reliable testimony comes from Dr. Festa

He recounted one time in particular that confirmed this “mysterious scent” beyond a doubt for him: In the beginning of his analysis of Pio, he took a dressing that had been put on one of his wounds to stop the flow of blood. He took this dressing back to Rome to study the blood upon it further, placing it in an airtight container to help preserve its integrity. Yet when he arrived back at his office something extraordinary happened: with the bloody dressing in the airtight container still in his briefcase, the fragrance impregnated the room to such a degree that his patients were mystified by a “violet fragrance”; the smell became so intense that each patient who came to see him that day would immediately ask what one earth it was. Well done, kind sir.

More mysteriously, these sweet-smelling wounds completely disappeared when he died, leaving no scar or trace of these wounds that bled profusely for fifty years:

Fr. Pellegrino, who was entrusted with caring for Pio in the last hours, made this stunning statement the night Pio died: “As soon as he undressed his body, we realized that the stigmata had disappeared. I had often seen the wounds… They were deep wounds in the middle of his palms… We checked… very carefully. The skin looked as new as a baby’s skin. You couldn’t see anything where the wounds had been, not even the slightest trace of a scar… They took pictures and Dr. Sala did a scientific report. Dr. Sala immediately said it was a miracle even greater than the stigmata since he was able to verify that dead tissue had been regenerated.” 

Adding even further to the mystery, he died fifty years *TO THE DAY* after he received the stigmata — the very day on which Jesus had told him he would die. 

There are numerous testimonies that prove Padre Pio knew the exact day of his death. Those closest to him testify that he was perfectly aware of the day when he was to die. 

He said numerous times, to multiple witnesses, that Jesus told him, “You will bear them for fifty years, and then you will see me.” And exactly fifty years later, to the day on September 23, the wounds disappeared and Pio passed.

But before I let this superhero go gently into the night, I have to tell you about another power he possessed while still on this side of The Wardrobe:

Through my research I discovered that the sweet “violet-smell” of his marks started to morph into this spiritual avenger's trademarked bat-sign-in-the-sky, letting you know of his presence; and this is where it gets next level crazy (and you  thought you were already in crazyland with the demogorgon fighting) – his presence could be in multiple locations at once… I’m not kidding.

This superhero’s ability to travel to those in most need of his help is even stranger than Dr. Strange’s Sling Rings. If it wasn’t for the complete documentation and undisputed testimonies that confirm his omni-like presence, I wouldn’t have believed these stories.

Buckle up…

To Be Continued… again… How do you fit everything this extraordinary individual miraculously did in just two short blogs?? That would take a miracle, and I ain't no Pio.

The Next Article: Aftermath: Father Strange

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