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Stigmata (singular stigma) is a term used by members of the Christian faith to describe body marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ, such as the hands, wrists, and feet.
The term originates from the line at the end of Saint Paul's Letter to the Galatians where he says, "I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." Stigmatais the plural of the Greek word στίγμα stigma, meaning a mark, tattoo, or brand such as might have been used for identification of an animal orslave. An individual bearing stigmata is referred to as a stigmatic or a stigmatist.
Stigmata are primarily associated with the Roman Catholic faith. Many reported stigmatics are members of Catholic religious orders. St. Francis of Assisi was the first recorded stigmatic in Christian history. For over fifty years, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchinreported stigmata which were studied by several 20th-century physicians whose independence from the Church is not known.
A high percentage (perhaps over 80%) of all stigmatics are women. In his Stigmata: A Medieval Phenomenon in a Modern Age, Edward Harrison suggests that there is no single mechanism whereby the marks of stigmata were produced.