Stigmata are bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ. An individual bearing stigmata is referred to as a astigmatic. The causes of stigmata are the subject of considerable debate. Some contend that they are miraculous, while others argue they are hoaxes or can be explained medically. Stigmata are primarily associated with the Roman Catholic faith. Many reported stigmatics are members of Catholic religious orders. About 90% of reported stigmatics are female.
Reported cases of stigmata take various forms. Many show some or all of the five Holy Wounds that were, according to the Bible, inflicted on Jesus during his crucifixion: wounds in the hands and feet, from nails, and in the side, from a lance. Some stigmatics display wounds to the forehead similar to those caused by the crown of thorns. Other reported forms include tears of blood or sweating blood, wounds to the back as from scourging, or wounds to the shoulder as from bearing the cross.
Some stigmatics claim to feel the pain of wounds with no external marks; these are referred to as invisible stigmata. In other cases, stigmata are accompanied by extreme pain. Some stigmatics wounds do not appear to clot and stay fresh and uninfected. The blood from the wounds is said, in some cases, to have a pleasant, perfumed odour.
Cases of stigmata have been reported at different ages for different stigmatics. Some have manifested stigmata continually after the first appearance; others have shown periodic stigmata that re-occur at certain times of the day or on certain, sometimes holy, days throughout the year.