What are Stigmata? - Christian marking
Quatr.us answers questions


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
Medieval art
More about medieval Europe
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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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