What are stigmata? Christian markings
When the Roman soldiers nailed Jesus to the cross, the nails made holes in His hands and feet. Medieval people called these holes the “stigmata” (stig-MA-ta), which is the Latin word for “marks”.
St. Francis receiving the stigmata (Giotto)
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. Giotto’s painting here shows St. Francis receiving the stigmata from an angel.
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:
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. What are stigmata? Christian markings. Quatr.us Study Guides, August 1, 2017. Web. January 29, 2020.