"...in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."
2 Corinthians 12:7-9
For centuries, Christians have been awed or repulsed by suffering associated with the rare phenomenon of stigmata. In his letter to the Corinthians, above, could it be that St. Paul was the first to endure this special "gift"?
The first documented stigmatist, however, was St. Francis of Assisi who lived 8 centuries ago. Since then, according to one site, over 300 people have been recorded as having experienced the phenomenon, with 90% of them being women. Though Catholic journalist Michael Brown reports the number of alleged stigmatists is growing, the Church has never issued an infallible statement regarding the validity of this seeming miracle.
The agony associated with this mysterious phenomenon has been observed by relatively few people through the centuries. Now, however, thanks to modern technology, the credibility of the alleged passion of Bolivian Katya Rivas can be evaluated by anyone with access to the Internet.
This outstanding 35 minute documentary is the product of Australian investigative journalist Michael Willesee. It is well worth seeing in its entirety. However, for those who are short on time, I offer a guide to the most important 10 minutes, or so.