The stigmata represents the wounds that Christ had on his body after he was crucified, that appears on someone. They include the wounds from the thorns embedded into his head as a crown to mock him, the slashes on his back from when they whipped him, the wounds on his hands from when the nails impaled him, the wounds on his feet for the same reason as for his hands and then final wound that pierced his side by the spare to confirm that he had actually died.
With the stigmata, the person who is inflicted with it is considered to be a virtuous one. As it is believed that the stigmata brings the sufferer closer to Christ. Because of the honor that is associated with the stigmata, it has always peaked my interest in finding out if any of the stories of stigmata, were real or fake. I do not write this post, as a way to disprove the whole miracle that is the stigmata, in of itself, but to provide an article that disprove one of the cases of stigmata.
One of those cases is the story of Therese Neumann, who was born on April 8th 1898. It was said that she was a very healthy child, and very strong in her abilities to tend to the hard work that were laid before her. She loved the outdoors more than anything and had a long term dream in becoming a missionary. Due to a horrible accident while helping to out the fire at her uncle’s farm, Therese stood up on a stool to hand the bucket of water to someone in the stable and tripped and fell, changing her life forever. This caused a partial paralysis and as she was known to be a strong woman, and didn’t want her disability holding her back from the things she could do, she continued to injure herself in various forms of accidents. One such accident believed to be a knock to her head, caused her to become blind. She eventually became totally bedridden, riddled with agony and now not able to see. The long term immobility, led to her suffering from bedsores that were described to go as far down to her bones.
Sometime in 1925, Therese experienced a miracle unlike any other; she was able to finally walk again. She claimed she heard a voice on May 25th, 1947, of the canonized Therese Lisieux, that led to her being able to walk again. It was in 1926, that she experienced her first stigmata. One of the biggest claims of Therese Neumann is that she hadn’t eaten or drank any water, for over 40 years, up until her death. A claim that most would find to be a little far fetched, as one knows that we cannot survive without food or water; it takes a few weeks (about 3) to succumb to the effects of not eating but we all know it is much sooner for water; which is at least a week and the most 10 days as 60% of our body is made up of water.
Therese Neumann’s stigmata, is known in the world of the mystics of the church and in 2005 the beautification and canonization of her, began. But it should be known that the Catholic church neither supports or denies Therese stigmata, unlike her predecessors; e.g: Padre Pio.
Prior to her stigmata, Therese Neumann had experienced some “unexplained” occurrences, one of them being that she bleed from her eyes. But neither herself or her doctor, had much concern about it. Also, she did have some contradictions that were witnessed or heard, by individuals who visited her to document and exam the claims of stigmata. Some of those claims included; she never had previous knowledge about the stigmata or what it pertained although she had read different books to the contrary, that she contemplated the suffering of Christ prior to her healing; which in fact she had proclaimed to some that she hadn’t, the wounds on her hands kept changing in size; one time it was bigger the other time it was smaller, the wounds on her head that she claimed bled continuously although the cloth she had around her head did not portray the effects of a continuously bleeding wound but instead only spots on where “thorns” would have pierced, no evidence of wounds on said head even when doctors observed her during particular examinations, and many more that can be read in the lengthy article; The Swindle of Konnersreuth.
Personally, I do not believe that Therese Neumann experienced the stigmata. With the church not acknowledging it as one of the many cases of the stigmata, I think it is suffice to say that neither do they.
As a Catholic by baptism, but a believer by faith, I prefer cases of authenticity that brings us closer to the supreme rather than those that have holes in it, big enough to fit a VW in. I am not sure if I believe in the whole phenomenon of stigmata, but I personally do not need it to continue with my faith in God (aka the supreme one).
At the end of the day, this entry isn’t to downplay the phenomenon but rather to just point out one case of many, that most likely, wasn’t true.
Yet again, if you’re interested in reading the totality that is the debunking of Therese Neumann, please check out The Swindle of Konnersreuth.
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