What are Stigmata? - Christian marking
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Stigmata

stigmata
Jesus on the Cross, by Fra Angelico

When Jesus was nailed to the cross, the nails made holes in His hands and feet. These holes are called the "stigmata" (stig-MA-ta), which is the Latin word for "marks".


This is St. Francis receiving
the stigmata from an angel.

In the later Middle Ages in Europe, very holy Christian people sometimes got these marks on their own hands and feet. People thought this was a sign that God really loved them a lot, and that they were especially holy people. Many people who had these marks became saints after they died.

One famous example of a man who people said had gotten stigmata from God was Francis of Assisi.

Learn by doing: go look at medieval paintings online or in a museum. Are there any stigmata?
More about Christianity

Bibliography and further reading about medieval art:

Life of Jesus
Saints
Medieval art
More about medieval Europe
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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