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Observations placeholder

Alfred Maury – Inducing Stigmata as a consequence of suggestion only



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

As described in Illustrations Of The Influence Of The Mind Upon The Body In Health And Disease, Designed To Elucidate The Action Of The Imagination - Daniel Hack Tuke, M.D., M.R.C.P.,


Sir Henry Holland, [Chapters on Mental Physiology. By Dr. (afterwards Sir) H. Holland. 1852. ] observes that he has reason to think that
 "haemorrhage (as in the simple case of epistaxis) is often increased by attention, but whether by excitement to the heart's action or by direct influence on the vessels of the part cannot easily be decided. Stimulated attention, moreover, will frequently give a local sense of arterial pulsation where not previously felt, and create or augment those singing and rushing noises in the ears, which probably depend on the circulation through the capillary vessels."

The singular phenomena of Stigmata may be fittingly referred to here, for so far as they are genuine and not caused by mechanical irritation, they arise from the mind's influence on the capillary circulation through the vaso-motor nerves. No one has treated the subject in a more luminous manner than M. Alfred Maury, who forcibly observes that ecstatic mysticism, including these remarkable appearances, is
"the most striking proof of the influence of the Imagination upon the body, and is truly a miracle, in the sense of being one of those marvellous effects of the laws of thought, whose secret escapes and whose extent confounds us."

He admits the fact of stigmatization (after making the allowance he considers necessary for imposture and exaggeration), and explains its occurrence, so far at least as the reference of the phenomena to a certain group of psycho-physical facts may be regarded as an explanation, by a consideration of the influence of dreams upon the skin. In mentioning those cases in which persons have dreamed that they received blows or wounds, and in the morning have found marks of inflammation on the body, and which sometimes, in the course of a day or two, become ulcers, he observes that
"just so with visionaries, under the power of the Imagination, by the concentration of the attention, the blood is directed to the place where they fancy they are affected"

(Annales Medico-Psychologiques. Edited by Baillarger, Cerise, et Longet, 1855).


M. Maury states that Ursula Aguir (1592), although she did not present the veritable signs of Stigmatization, experienced every Friday severe pain in the place where, in a vision, she had been stigmatized.
" An ecstatic, of whom the botanist Auguste de St. Hilaire has given a curious account in his 'Voyage au Bresil’ fell every Friday and Saturday into an ecstasy, in which she remained meditating upon and experiencing the sufferings of Christ."

He adds,
 "The flux of the Stigmata upon Fridays has been verified also in the case of the Sister Emmerich (1824) and the Stigmatized of the Tyrol, but the fact is still more remarkable with a contemporary Mad. Miollis of Villecroze, in the Department of Var, in whom the marks supposed to signify the crown of thorns and a cross upon the chest are not permanent, but only apparent during the contemplation accompanying certain solemn occasions, as the 'Fete de la croix' and the celebration of the Stigmata of St. Francis d'Assisi."

In the early part of the century Count Stolberg visited her and has left on record a description of these stigmata — a description confirmed by the account which a physician published in one of the Salzburg journals of the phenomena observed in this ecstatic (op. cit., pp. 204, 220). At the same time we should hesitate to accept this case with implicit faith in its entire accuracy.

The source of the experience

Hack Tuke, Daniel

Concepts, symbols and science items



Activities and commonsteps