|Blessed Mary of the Angels|
We close this catalogue with the following names of servants of God who might have been added to the list of those who have been stigmatized.
1. Blessed Mary of the Angels, born at Turin, Piedmont, Italy, January 7th, 1661. She was a Carmelite nun, and suffered the sensible dolors of the Passion of our Lord. She died December 16th, 1717, and was beatified by Pope Pius IX, 1865.
2. Maty de Aiofrin, or Aiostrin. She lived at Toledo, in Spain, and was stigmatized in the side. She is mentioned by Rayssius, Raynaud and Alva, who refer to Vallega, Florilegium Sanctorum, torn. 3.
3. The virgin Eustochia. She was a Franciscan nun. After her death the holy names of Jesus and Mary were found impressed on the region of her heart. She is mentioned by Raynaud, who refers to Alano Copo. She may be the servant of God whose life has been written by Michael Pio. A similar name is mentioned by Bagatta and by Scardeone.
4. Sister Nympha, a nun of the Order of St. Francis de Paola, mentioned by Rayssius and Alva, who refer to the general history of the same order, published in Paris by Dony de Attichy, 1624.
The five following living servants of God have also been stigmatized or crowned with thorns:
1. Madame Moillis, living at Dragiugnan, France.
2. Sister Francis Xavier de Requisita, Aveyron, France.
3. Pasqualina, mentioned by Palma Maria d'Oria, living in Jerusalem, Palestine.
4. Sister Mary of the Cross, better known as Melanie de la Salette, is reported to have been stigmatized and to have received the Crown of Thorns.
5. From two sources of high and reliable authority, both eye-witnesses, the compiler of this has learned that a religious of the Precious Blood in Canada has been stigmatized, and impressed with the Crown of Thorns. This is Mother Catharine, and the founder of this new religious institute in Upper Canada.
We venture to say that this list, notwithstanding its imperfections, is the most complete that has ever appeared in any book. It may be considered an abridgment of the history of those saints and servants of God that have received the miraculous impression of the Crown of Thorns. A real history of these extraordinary facts is rather difficult, and would require the combined talents and efforts of an able physician and a learned and pious mystic theologian. A more perfect study of the chronicles of sanctity would certainly enlarge the catalogue of holy persons who have supernaturally shared in the sufferings of our Lord's Passion. Moreover, we are not always permitted to penetrate, within the sacred retreats of Christian humility, wherein those favorite servants of God like to remain concealed in obscurity. Many of them have succeeded in concealing themselves from human observation. In the Theological Dictionary of Gosschler, one of the editors justly observes that the miracle of the stigmatization is perhaps more frequently produced during our present time than it appears to have been in past centuries. There are few epochs, he says, wherein there have been in different parts of Germany so many cases of stigmata as there are at the present moment. The more commonly known are Catharine Emmerich, Maria de Moerl, etc. But, to the knowledge of the writer of this article, there are many others who have succeeded better than these in concealing their supernatural gifts from public notice, and remain unknown in holy and salutary obscurity. The same remark is true in relation to other servants of God in Italy, France, Spain, and in other countries. Sanctity is inseparable from humility, which lives and thrives in voluntary obscurity and quiet seclusion.
From St. Francis of Assissi, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, to the present day, there has been an uninterrupted living chain of saints and servants of God, stigmatized or crowned with thorns. This consoling and edifying fact can be mathematically demonstrated. Since that memorable epoch there has not been a day wherein the glorious family of living persons mystically crucified have ceased to represent in the Catholic Church the sublime mystery of Calvary.
From the general catalogue of the stigmatized we learn that twenty were men and one hundred and thirty-six women. The vast majority of these privileged persons were members of different religious orders or congregations.
1. The illustrious Order of St. Dominic marches at the head of this glorious procession, with the standard of the Cross. No less than sixty children of this great Patriarch have been decorated with the sacred stigmata of our crucified Lord, sixteen of whom endured only the internal sufferings of the Passion.
2. The seraphic Order of St. Francis comes next, with the holy founder at its head. Including St. Francis of Assissi, forty-three members of the various Franciscan families have been stigmatized, fourteen of whom suffered only the internal dolors of the Passion.
3. Carmelites have seven.
4. The same number is found among the Augustinians.
5. The Cistercians have five stigmatized.
6. Nuns of the Visitation have three.
7. The Theatines, or Nuns of St. Cajetan, two.
8. The Hospitaliers Sisters have two.
9. The Benedictines, one.
10. The Servites, one.
11. The Premonstratense, one.
12. The Beguine Sister in Belgium, one.
13. The Canadian Gray Sisters, one.
14. Sisters of the Precious Blood, one.
The rest, in a very small proportion, were secular persons, living in the world.
Twelve of these stigmatized servants of God had lived in the married state, one only, of whom was a man, namely, Blessed Roberto Malatesta. Two of these received the stigmata while living with their husbands. They were Blessed Mary of the Incarnation (Madame Alcario) and Johanna of. Jesus and Mary, the latter in Spain, the former in France. As far as we know, all these privileged saints and servants of God belong to the following nationalities:
1. Italy, the center of Christianity, is at the head of the list. This country has been wonderfully blessed by God. She is justly recognized as the land of miracles. Out of one hundred and fifty-six stigmatized or otherwise supernaturally impressed with the marks of our Savior's Passion, Italy alone numbers at least seventy, nearly the half of the whole list. She is still more favored with the Crown of Thorns. Among the fifty-three, known to have received the miraculous impression of the mystic crown, thirty-three are Italian saints or eminent servants of God. We should, moreover, observe that they are, as Dr. A. Imbert Gourbeyere says, the most illustrious in the entire catalogue of stigmatization.
2. Catholic Spain comes next to Italy, with fifteen stigmatized and four crowned with thorns.
3. France has eleven stigmatized and four crowned with thorns.
4. Different parts of Germany have eleven stigmatized and three crowned with thorns.
5. Belgium counts five stigmatized and two crowned with thorns.
6. Portugal has five stigmatized and one crowned with thorns.
7. Tyrol, three stigmatized and one crowned with thorns.
8. Holland, two stigmatized.
9. Switzerland, two stigmatized and one crowned with thorns.
10. Hungary, two stigmatized.
11. Canada, two stigmatized and crowned with thorns.
12. Scotland, one stigmatized.
This was Father John Gray, a Franciscan Friar, who suffered martyrdom for his faith, at Bruxelles, from the hands of the Calvinists, January 5th, 1579. He is mentioned by Father Thomas Burchier, an English Franciscan, in his "Ecclesiastical History of the Martyrdom of the Franciscan Friars who suffered in England, Ireland, and Belgium, from the year 1536 to 1582."
Among the cities more particularly illustrated by these privileged saints and servants of God are: Naples, which counts eight of them; Florence, four; Foligno, Mantua and Sienna, in Italy, three each; Valencia, in Spain, four; Paris, in France, two.
More than forty of these have been raised by the Holy See to the honors of the altar, which means that they have been canonized, or at least beatified. They have all died in the odor of sanctity, and the cause of the beatification of many of them has been introduced in Rome.
Three members of this glorious family of saints, all three Italians, who have been decorated with the true cross of honor of our Divine King, crowned with thorns and crucified, have been canonized or beatified in the present century. They are St. Veronica Juliani, 1839, by Pope Gregory XVI; St. Mary Francis of the Five Wounds, 1867; and Blessed Charles of Sezia, 1873, by Pope Pius IX.
As the Passion of our Lord began with the fall of man from original justice, so the Crown of Thorns commenced to be plaited for him from the moment that the offended Majesty of God said to Adam: Cursed is the earth in thy work ... Thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to thee. In the company of Moses we have contemplated this Crown on Mount Horeb at the light of the burning bush, and we venerated it with him in the Tabernacle round the Ark of the Covenant. In the figure of the Azazel we saw our Savior meekly receiving upon his adorable head the curse due to our sins, and beheld him sacrificed on Mount Moriah, to save all the elect, in the person of Isaac, the obedient son of Abraham. Following the path indicated by these and other figures of the Old Testament, we arrived at Bethlehem, and, with St. Bernard we meditated on the crown of poverty and misery placed by his Virgin Mother on the head of our Infant Savior. We have accompanied him to the hall of Pilate, and witnessed in the cruelty of his stepmother, the Synagogue, the full realization of all the prophetic figures of the Crown of Thorns. We contemplated the sufferings and humiliations of the King of Sorrows, and accompanied him to his final victory and triumph. We admired the devotion of the holy Empress Helena, and with profound gratitude received from her hands the precious relic of the Crown of Thorns.
During the last seven centuries, including our own, we have seen this sacred Crown miraculously bleeding in the Church of the living God, and adorning the heads of more than fifty successive privileged servants of Jesus Christ. Several of these heroic persons are suffering and are adorned with it whilst we write and read these wonderful facts.
Crown of our Savior, we venerate thee. Oh! why shall we not adore thee, after having been sanctified by the sufferings and by the sacred blood of the Divine Victim of our redemption? Crown of Jesus, thou art very dear to his sacred heart. We see thee entwined round it, the cherished object of his divine predilection. Thou and the Cross are most dear to him. Intimately convinced of this truth, spurred on by thy gentle pricks, encouraged by thy fervent lover, St. Bernard, I have gathered this small bunch of flowers in thy praise and in thy honor. I humbly lay it in the bosom of the afflicted and sorrowful Mother of my crucified Savior, at the foot of the Cross. She knows my wants, my wishes, my object. I sincerely desire to see her Divine Son, the King of Sorrows, glorified in thee, with thee, and through thee. Crown of Thorns, obtain for me and for all the pious readers of this little work, the grace to bear the trials and humiliations of this life in imitation of our Divine Savior crowned with thorns; that we may deserve to receive from his glorified hands the crown of eternal bliss and glory. Amen.
"Spinea Corona Capitis Jesu, Diadema regni adepti sumus." Fiat.