Stigmata and Blood Sign Miracles - Part 1
Following our Manifestations of Glory event in the Atlanta area in Spring of 2008, I felt impressed to spend a little time discussing the phenomenon of stigmata, as this is a peculiar miracle that causes much curiosity as well as much misunderstanding. We love this particular manifestation, which happened to occur at our conference. There was such a weighty Glory and an open Heaven for the release of mystical signs and wonders. It would be difficult to compare this with any other conference we have hosted to date.
We invited guest speaker Lucy Rael, a woman of utmost integrity who has for decades manifested the “blood sign,” or stigmata, on her physical body. Lucy has long worked under the helm of the renowned healing revivalist T.L. Osborne. Not only did the blood sign appear before the gathered crowd in south Atlanta. Also, there were dramatic manifestations of thick, supernatural gold flakes and copious amounts of supernatural oil that flowed from Lucy’s hands as she ministered. For those who may want to witness this miracle firsthand, I would encourage folks to pick up the DVD series from our online store, as there is really a powerful impartation on this media resource –we captured nearly all of the most dramatic miracles on film, including the stigmata. I have found that watching such dramatic, unusual miracles is a catalyst for increasing my own faith.
Stigmata is a supernatural phenomenon that accompanies states of divine ecstasy, but garners significant controversy in Protestant circles. Stigmata is something we at Sons of Thunder tenderly refer to as “stiggy!” There have been more stigmatists over the past century than any other on record. Theologian R.P. Poulan estimates that as of 1907, there had been conservatively 321 known stigmatists. Now, a century later, that number has grown to 500. Despite common misperceptions, these occur as much among Protestant believers as Catholic.
Francis of Assisi in the 13th century was the first believer known to carry the stigmata, and there are a number around today, including Lucy, a charismatic Protestant minister . Fr. Elias is a young Catholic stigmatist in Italy today, and even the great revivalist A.A. Allen would highlight the miracle in his own tent revivals in the 1960s. In addition to the stigmata appearing on some in Allen’s miracle services, many people would receive a supernatural mark in the shape of a cross on their foreheads.
Although not a stigmatist, our friend, Joshua Mills, was recently in a meeting in New Zealand when warm blood dropped into his hand out of thin air. After a while, it turned into deep crimson “Glory dust.” Many people were physically healed and converted to Christianity at the meeting. Joshua said he received more persecution from critics for this one sign than perhaps any other to date!
There are many “blood miracles” throughout church history. The great miracle worker Francis of Paola once refused to take a chest of gold coins from a wicked king who had exploited the poor for the money. To show that this was literally blood money, Francis picked up a gold coin and was able to snap it in half between his fingers. Blood dripped out of the coin miraculously, and the king was instantly repentant.
Without a doubt, blood miracles are simply taboo in Western Protestantism. A lot of misinformation is fed to us by Hollywood – there is even a movie titled Stigmata, which incessantly portrays the experience to be demonic and cultish. There should not be pointless division over such a trivial issue. However, I do believe that as we honor the miracles God releases, He is prone to bring more blessing. Why must we always drop the gavel and make a judgment call on things we don’t understand? Don’t slap a demonic label on everything inexplicable. The bottom line is that miracles are from God when He is glorified, and thousands of people have come to faith through the manifestation of stiggy.
The reason stigmata is controversial is simple: there is always warfare over the blood.
In the case of stigmatists, history shows that all of them were ecstatics, meaning they all experienced trances, deep sensations of divine pleasure and the general bliss of Heaven. Most of them had visions of Christ, revealing Himself to them in His blood-stained garments. There are some stigmatists who did not even receive pain from their wounds (such as Lucy). Often, a stigmatist’s wounds will open and then close again miraculously. Gemma Galgani, who died in 1903, is an example of a modern recipient of these marks of Christ whose wounds would open and close again each week after her ecstasy was over on Friday.
In the case of the 1873 stigmata of Louise Lateau, documented by medical doctors (as are nearly all modern examples), there were no actual wounds per se. The blood would flow from unbroken skin. Other stigmatists’ hands and feet have been completely perforated all the way through the flesh. This is what occurred with 18th century stigmatist Maria Francesca delle Cinque Piaghe. Her confessor, Don Paschal Nitti gives this testimony:
“I have seen them, I have touched them, and to say the truth I, as the apostle St. Thomas did, have put in my finger into the wounds through her hands and I have seen that the hole extended right through, for in inserting my finger into the wound it met the thumb which I held underneath on the other side of the hand”
Some have received an invisible stiggy. That is, their hands felt the pain of the stigmata, but they never received the actual blood sign. As in the case of Catherine of Siena, some had visible bleeding stigmata, but after requesting the Lord to make the sign invisible, He did so.
I have never encountered an instance of valid stiggy in my studies where there was no choice made by the recipient to willingly endure this mark. That is, it has always been a grace gift that could be received or rejected without condemnation. In those cases where stigmatists asked the Lord to remove it, time and again He has obliged.
On a deeper level, stigmata is an outward manifestation of ecstasy that comes from a spiritual condition called the wounds of love, or the anguish of love. Jesus sweat blood in Gethsemane. Jacob wrestled with an angel until his leg was injured. Just because a manifestation hurts does not mean it is not from God. And on the same token, not everyone is called to carry stiggy. It is not a superior mark of piety.
In the anguish of love, states of pleasure and suffering come in near equal strength. It is possible to experience bliss and suffering both simultaneously, and with great intensity. Most stigmatists have meditated long hours on Christ’s passion, and they have been graced with a condition of deep heart-sickness:
“Something of the same kind is experienced in human love when it is violent. A great sweetness is felt, the lover does not wish to quit the thought of the beloved; he enjoys it. But at the same time he feels his heart torn because of his absence from her, or because of the difficulty of conversing with her freely. There is thus a mingling of joy and of sorrow. So, too, it is possible to have delicious experiences of God and of His love, and to feel at the same time a secret anguish which is nothing else than the thirst for God, kindled by Himself,” writes Poulan.
Common questions need to be answered to arrive at proper discernment in such cases. Does the subject feel drawn closer to God in these experiences? Does the person want the manifestation to continue, despite the obvious pain, or is it solely an oppressive experience? Remember that any ecstasy can be intense, but generally it is very welcome because it is an intensity of bliss. Perhaps the guiding factor is this: is there an essence of God’s presence and peace in the midst of perceived suffering?
“The ecstatic suffers, and he not only accepts his pain, but he dominates it, he triumphs over it, he accepts it with enthusiasm. These joyful sentiments are not of the Earth,” writes mystical Christian theologian Fr. Hamon in 1906. “He interests himself, as though he were in complete health, in the joys and sorrows of others.”
Overall, I believe we can accept stigmata as a valid miracle of Jesus, without having to embrace a depressed theology of suffering. The best stigmatist is a happy one!
Of those contemplatives who suffer in some supernatural way, Teresa of Avila says:
“They have need that His Majesty should afford them some refreshment, and this not of water, but wine; that so, inebriated with this celestial wine, they may not consider that they suffer, and may be able to endure it.”
I have determined in my heart that, if there is a heavier hit of Glory on something, I want it – no matter how much it hurts!
Next week, we will continue our discussion, touching on the subject of demonic counterfeit and discernment with bizarre miracles of this nature …