Monsiour Maury – Description of St Francis’s visions and stigmata
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.,
PART I. THE INTELLECT.
CHAPTER IV. INFLUENCE OF THE INTELLECT UPON THE INVOLUNTARY MUSCLES.
M. Maury's description of the experience of St. Francis d'Assisi, whom he regards as the ancestor of the stigmatized, is so much to the purpose that we shall make free use of it here. One day when exhausted by fasts and absorbed in reverie and prayer, he imagined that God ordered him to open the Gospels in order that he might there learn His will.
" Open me the Holy Book," he exclaimed to a friar. Three times was this done, and three times it opened at the account of the Saviour's Passion.
St. Francis regarded this as a proof that he must carry his imitation of Christ much further than he had hitherto done. Bodily mortification he had doubtless practiced, and had crucified his desires, but he had not yet subjected his body to the sufferings of the cross, the penance now evidently required by the Almighty. One thought, one definite idea, henceforth occupied him — his Master's crucifixion. His Imagination revelled, so to speak, in all His sufferings. He strove while fasting more and more, and praying more and more intensely, to realize them himself.
On the anniversary of the Exaltation of the Cross, resigning himself more than ever to one of these ecstatic contemplations, he imagined he saw an angel descend from the vault of heaven and approach him, the hands and feet attached to a cross. As St. Francis contemplated this vision full of profound delight and astonishment, the seraph suddenly vanished. But the pious anchorite experienced from this spectacle a strange reaction, and his whole system was more than ever permeated with the idea of the realization of the physical sufferings of Christ in his own person.
He then suffered pain in his hands and feet, and this was succeeded by inflammation so severe as to terminate in ulceration. These wounds he regarded as the Stigmata of the Saviour's Passion.
(Annales Medico-Psychologiques. Edited by Baillarger, Cerise, et Longet, 1855).