From the Greek, meaning “marks,” this refers in Church use to the visible wounds, scars, or skin abrasions that appear on the flesh of individuals.  They correspond to the wounds suffered by Christ in the crucifixion.

Stigmata are accompanied by pain.  Numerous instances are recorded of this charism having been bestowed on persons of unusual holiness, more than three hundred in all.

The majority of the stigmata are external, visible, and very painful.  There are other marks of Our Lord’s Passion which are not visible, for example, those of St. Catherine of Siena.

St. Catherine at first had visible stigmata but through humility she asked that they might be made invisible, and her prayer was heard. These are called invisible stigmata and are equally painful. (8:24)