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Title: Medieval phenomena in a modern age : a study of six contemporary cases of stigmata and reactions to them
Author: Harrison, Edward
ISNI:       0000 0001 3538 7426
Awarding Body: University of Kent at Canterbury
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 1998
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The thesis, which is based on a first-hand examination of six contemporary cases of religious stigmatisation, offers a new approach to the study of stigmata in the Christian tradition. Stigmata are the wounds of Christ's passion, which, in this context, are those displayed in physical form on the human body to which a spiritual, devotional or pietistic significance is attached and about which claims of preternatural origins are made. The thesis suggests that most previous studies of the subject have been intrinsically restricted in their approach by maintaining a false dichotomy: that religious stigmatisation must either be fraudulent or genuine, that is created (diabolically or by human means) in order to deceive, or, created by supernatural means for a divine purpose. This study finds that while claims were made of the modem stigmata that they were of divine and supernatural origin, no witness evidence was found to corroborate the suggestion that the marks had been produced in any other than a natural way. Yet neither was a common human or natural explanation identified. The marks were produced in various ways which differed from case to case. Their significance however depended not on their cause, but on their validation through the interaction of the stigmatics with the communities which sustained them. It was from this process of interaction that reports of the supernatural and the miraculous emerged. As the stigmatics came to be seen by witnesses and worshipping congregations as living allegories of Christ's passion, significant events, which incorporated elements of spiritual renewal, occurred. Stigmata of human origin appeared to be capable of deepening the faith of both the stigmatics and those who witnessed their marks; they led both groups into a greater awareness of the divine; and provided the opportunity for members of both groups to explore their own spirituality.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: B Philosophy (General) ; BL Religion ; AZ History of Scholarship. The Humanities ; CB History of civilization ; D History (General) ; LA History of education