The following is a condensation of an essay given in the Creston Protestant Reformed Young People’s Society by the late “Gordon King”. His brother, Roger, has condensed it for use in the Beacon Lights. In the coming Lenten Season this rather noteworthy subject should be of interest to our readers.
The strange title which heads this article is probably unfamiliar to many persons, especially in Protestant circles. The stigma referred to are the visible sign of Christ’s passion which some people bear on their bodies; the nail marks on the hands and feet, the spear wound on their side, and marks left by Christ’s thorny crown on their head. These marks seem to appear spontaneously without any personal injury to the stigmatic. They are said to be experienced by certain persons who share in Christ’s intense sufferings. The signs are known as the visible stigmata.
The stigmatic’s often feel that they participate in the sufferings of Christ, if only in a small way, and by these signs show their piety for Christ and participate in his sufferings and death. “The life of stigmatic’s is but a long series of sorrows which arise from the divine malady of the stigmata and end only in death.”
Dr. Imbus in studying this phenomenon has found that: 1) No stigmatic’s are known to exist before the 13th century. The first mentioned is St. Francis of Assisi. 2) There were 321 stigmatic’s in whom there is every reason to believe in a divine action. 3) Today we know of only one stigmatic.
Mrs. Donald Mc Isaac: is a stigmatic in our present day.
Six days a week, Mrs. Mc Isaac is much like any other small town housewife. But for three hours every Friday evening, for the past ten years, she has suffered ecstatic agonies.
In the current Mc Leans magazine of Canada, Frank Hamilton describes Mrs. Mc Isaac as one of the most remarkable stigmatic’s in History. Says Hamilton, “Of the wounds” existence, there can be no doubt. The first of Mrs. Mc Isaac’s stigmata appeared in 1937 – a small painful sore on the back of her right hand. Over the next three years, other wounds developed. The church arranged for long, detailed examination of Mrs. Mc Isaac at two hospitals by Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish doctors.”
“The wounds are most peculiar,” reported a Protestant physician. “Those on the hands and feet are square. On the backs of the hands and on the insteps, they are dark and slightly hard. On the palms and the soles, they are somewhat smaller, and rather reddish in color, and are covered with a sort of transparent tissue. The wound in the left side is deep, and shaped like a long narrow diamond. On the head under the hairline there are numerous small wounds, mostly circular in shape. On the back there are several crosswise reddish marks, like lash marks.
During her five weeks in the hospital, Mrs. Mc Isaac was not left alone for a moment day or night. Her agony came on Friday – invariably at 6 and 9 p.m. In this test the time was secretly advanced to 4 ½ hours.
A Protestant doctor said, “Mrs. Mc Isaac was bright, lively and full of energy right up until late Friday afternoon. She was in very good health in the early part of the week despite the marks. Toward 6 o’clock they appear more like fresh wounds. She appears to lapse into a trance. Soon a drop of blood would begin to form at one of the foot wounds. Gradually the hands and the other wounds began to bleed. At 9 o’clock the flow of blood stopped, the pain seemed to go, and she appeared to sleep normally. The next morning she was again in very good health.”
It also seems to be a well established fact that stigmatization occurs only among those favored with ecstasies, and that it is preceded and attended by very keen physical and moral sufferings which they render the subject conformable to the suffering Christ. For this reason the stigmata are said to be the symbols of union with Jesus Christ crucified, and of participation in His martyrdom.