Since the middle ages there have been many of cases of stigmata, whereby a person receives the five wounds of Christ Jesus on the body.
Reported elements of the stigmata:
- they can be inner (felt), or outer marks (also physically noticeable)
- sometimes they bleed, but not always
- the wounds can either be permanent or reappear periodically
- many live in constant pain and/or have recurrency of the wounds and/or pain attacks every Friday
- often visions of the passion of christ or the gospels occur (regularly)
- some do not take in any food any more after having received the stigmata
- most of the reported cases are women.
- Franz von Assisi (1181/82 - 1226) received a spiritual vision and the stigmata in 1224, he died in 1226. This is the first historically documented witness report of stigmata.
- Anna Katharina Emmerick (1774-1824) also passed through a period of serious illness and after which stigmata appeared around 1811. Her visions over a period of 12 years were captured by Clemens Brentano in the period 1819-1824.
- Marguerite Bays (1815-1879) got stigmata around 1854 and like others felt into ectatic raptures with pain weekly.
- Gemma Galgani (1878-1903) also had a very weak health and received stigmata in 1899
- Pater Pio (von Pietrelcina) (1887-1968) is a well known case who lived with stigmata for at least some some fifty years
- Marie Rose Ferron (1902-1936) got stigmata in 1926 after a youth full of seruous health problems, dying young at the age of 33.
- Therese Neumann (1898-1962) received stigmata in 1926 after a period of serious illness in period 1918-1925, and had visions about scenes from the gospels.
- Marthe Robin (1902-1981) reported a Christ experience in 1928 and received stigmata in 1930 followed by visions of the passion of Christ. She did not take in any food for a period of fifty years.
Lecture coverage and references
Rudolf Steiner lectured on the Christian initiation many times in the period 1906-7 and mentioned red spots than can appear during the fourth stage, but without any further details.
In a lecture 1906-09-03-GA095 is mentioned: 'During the 4th stage, the Crucifixion, a reddening develops in the spots where the Stigmata occurs' and further lectures state 'that during meditation stigmata can appear on the skin' (references: 1906-06-01-GA094, 1906-09-19-GA097, 1906-11-30-GA097, 1907-02-03-GA097, 1907-02-22-GA097, 1907-06-27-GA100). Other mentions of the red spots are in 1906-11-04-GA094, 1906-09-03-GA095, 1907-06-06-GA099.
In 1908-05-30-GA 103 the stigmata are mentioned
In the fourth exercise, the pupil's body must become as foreign to his feelings as any external object — a stick of wood for example — and he must not say “I” to his body. This experience must become so much a part of his feelings that he says: “I carry my body about with me as I do my coat.” He connects his ego no longer with his body. Then something occurs which is called the Stigmata. What in many cases might be a condition of sickness is in this case a result of Meditation, because all sickness must be eliminated. On the feet and hands and on the right side of the breast appear the so-called Stigmata; and as an inner symptom, he beholds the “Crucifixion” in an astral vision.
1911-10-14-GA131 states that when a person experiences stigmatization, then he or she is beginning to receive the Phantom (also known as the “Resurrection Body”)
.. owing to the intensity of the experiences which must be undergone in the seven stages of the Christian initiation, the effects go right into the physical body. For through the strength and power with which we go through these feelings, it really is at first as if water were washing over our feet, and then as if we were transfixed with wounds. We actually feel as if thorns were pressing into our head; we feel all the pain and suffering of the Crucifixion. We have to feel this before we can experience the Mystical Death, the Burial, and the Resurrection, as these also have been described. Even if we have not gone through these feelings with sufficient intensity, they will certainly have the effect that we become strong and full of love in the right sense of the word. But what we then incorporate can go only as far as the etheric body. When, however, we begin to feel that our feet are as though washed with water, our body as if covered with wounds, then we have succeeded in driving these feelings so deeply into our nature that they have penetrated as far as the physical body. They do indeed penetrate the physical body, and then the stigmata, the marks of the bleeding wounds of Christ Jesus, may appear. We drive the feelings inwards into the physical body and know that they develop their strength in the physical body itself. We consciously feel ourselves more in the grip of our whole being than if the impressions were merely in the astral body and etheric body. The essential thing is that through a process of mystical feeling we work right into our physical body; and when we do this we are doing nothing less than making ourselves ready in our physical body to receive the Phantom that went forth from the grave on Golgotha. Hence we work into our physical body in order to make it so living that it feels a relationship with, an attractive force towards, the Phantom that rose out of the grave on Golgotha.
Personal opinion: Rudolf Steiner did not mention the stigmata when lecturing on Franciscus of Assisi, and did not mention the well known Anna Katharina Emmerick either in his twenty years of lecturing (though he did answer one question on her, but even then did not go into the contents about her visions of the christ, whereas he could well have done so). The fact that he did elaborate repeatedly on the comparison of the christian initiation to the rosecrucian (see references), implies a clear prioritization of what he deemed important. This ought to suffice for clear guidance (and confirmation of our inner compass of discernment) so we do not get carried away in our interests or by the sensation around the topic. In a sense it's a distraction from what all of us should be doing and focusing on daily.
Lecture 1911-10-14-GA131 seems to imply that invisible stigmata are in the astral body, red spots are changes in the etheric body, and permanent stigmata affecting the physical body.
In the Netherlands, Rob Steinbuch as researched the topic of stigmata in the light of anthroposophy.
In the anthroposophical community, the case of Judith von Halle has caused was and polarization. See eg this page.
Reflection on the side: the described Christian initiation (as a process and as a whole) resonates with a technique such as what Draja Mickaharic called Vicarious Visualization (in 'Gaining life experience'); also Franz Bardon describes the training of the capability of imagination in steps 2 and 3 of 'Initiation into Hermetics'. In a way the Christian initiation appears like a very focused practice of magical imagination leading to realisation in astral, etheric and physical domains.
References and further reading
- Wolfgang Garvelmann: 'Sie sehen Christus – Erlebnisberichte von der Passion und der Auferstehung Christi' (2008)