The Stigmata in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

Carolyn Muessig

Research output: Book/ReportAuthored book


The phenomenon of stigmatization -- the belief that a person is miraculously marked with the five wounds of the crucifixion -- provides a gripping example of how cultural notions of the human body are profoundly tied to an individual’s historical milieu. It was during the medieval period in Europe that this unusual religious concept emerged. Whilst studies have considered the history of stigmatization mainly in regard to Francis of Assisi (d.1226), the first person ‘reported’ to receive the five wounds miraculously on his body, Stigmata in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe examines examples before and after Francis; some of these examples are examined for the first time in English. The book provides a unique exploration as to why stigmatization became a saintly ideal in pre-modern Europe, accepted by some as the ultimate proof of the possibility of human perfection, while disregarded by others as a pathetic example of humanity’s ability to delude itself in its desire to touch the miraculous.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages304
ISBN (Print)9780198795643
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2020


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