28 April 2010
Dr Carolyn Muessig has been awarded a 12-month Leverhulme Research Fellowship for academic year 2010/11 to work on her project 'Stigmatics in Medieval Christianity'.
Dr Muessig describes this project:
The human reception of the stigmata is the only miracle that can be called a thoroughly medieval one as accounts of it are not found in the early Church. It was in 1224 with Francis of Assisi that explicit examples of the miraculous reception of the wounds of Christ's passion were first documented. After Francis, there were dozens of reported cases of stigmatization during the Middle Ages, and the meaning of these phenomena was widely debated. Some theologians (e.g., James of Voragine) believed that stigmatization was an occurrence that could be effected through an individual's devotional imagination and his or her focus on the crucified Christ. Others (e.g., Bonaventure) argued that it was a unique miracle that could happen only to Francis of Assisi. It was claimed by some (e.g., Thomas Caffarini) that stigmatization varied from case to case: for example, it could include people who inflicted bodily mortification on themselves, or those who received the marks miraculously through following a strict regime of prayer and fasting. There were also other churchmen (e.g., Robert of England) who believed the notion was a fraudulent heresy. Most theologians believed in the possibility of the reception of the stigmata and its concomitant indication that a person had become perfected in the image of God. This particular discussion of deification, or theosis, as related to stigmatization has been almost completely overlooked by scholars.
Read more: Muessig, Stigmatics in Medieval Christianity