The Shroud of Turin and Some Historical Findings Contradict the Stigmata? -Help!


Hello brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I dunno if this question was already asked before but a skeptic once confronted me regarding the Stigmata wounds’ “contradiction” to the placement of the real wounds of Jesus. I know that the nails were driven unto Jesus’ wrists. Something about the soft tissue in the hands being torn if the nails were driven unto the palms. I also see this in the blood flows visible in the Shroud of Turin. The people experiencing stigmata (perhaps just most), however, have wounds in their palms, not the wrists.

I know the stigmata is not fake. I know it’s real. However, i don’t know how to defend it against such so-called “contradictions”. Anybody wanna help me out?



The placement of the nails in the wrists is a twentieth century belief. It is quite possibly not true. The Romans could easily have used ropes as well.


That’s how it was depicted in The Passion of The Christ. I had always heard the wrist, but I would assume Mel Gibson would have researched it to see how the Romans actually did it, not specifically on just Jesus, but in general.


No, you do not. Although it is a characteristic of a number of saints, including at least one extremely important one, it is still most likely fake, and the Church does not require belief in it. It is much more sensible to treat stigmata as a psychological phenomenon that is not counterindicative of sainthood than it is to call it a miracle. We live, alas, in the continuation of the Age of Reason, and reason is also a gift from God.


As the OP really doesn’t know that it’s “not fake” I would submit that you, likewise don’t know that it’s “most likely fake”. Each is speculation.


We just had a speaker at our church that was on the 1978 research team of the shroud. He said that crucifixtions always had the nail put into the wrist not the palm. The reason being that the palm could not support the weight of the body and that the body would simply fall off the cross. As far as stigmatas ,I have no clue about those. Im not really sure if I believe or not.

Hope that helps from a medical standpoint. Oh he even showed us where in the wrist the nails were driven through. It was very interesting.:thumbsup:


No, it is absolutely not. The placement of the nails in the palm is the traditional understanding that (understandably) arose as the common misconception from people reading Scripture who were unfamiliar with the more precise historical facts about the method of Roman crucifixions.

Here’s what the skeletal structure of your hand looks like:

You do not put nails into the palm, because there is absolutely nothing there to prevent the weight of your body from tearing the nail right out of your hand. That flap of flesh is not sufficient to hold the weight of your body for any significant period of time, and ropes aren’t going to eliminate the weight of your body pulling down at an angle. (Ropes would only work for a much more prolonged execution, if the victim was tied up high enough to take the weight off of the hands, which is not how the crucifixion of Christ has ever been understood at any point in history.) Placing the nail into the “space of Destot” in the wrist, which you can see towards the botton of the photograph above, not only provided a very firm hold, but was tremendously more painful. It was a cruel form of execution, and the Romans were not stupid.

The greek word translated as “hand” in the gospels can include everything below the mid-forearm. And the same sort of usage can still be seen today in an example such as handcuffs, which are more technically placed around the wrist. It would also make more sense when considering the encounter that the resurrected Christ had with the disciples on the road to Emmaus: why didn’t they notice gaping holes in his hands as they walked along talking with him? Did he really keep his hands completely hidden from them the whole time, or might it be the case that, because the wounds were in his wrist, they were simply not visible to them until he broke the bread and elevated it towards heaven in their presence?

I might add that the fact that the Shroud does document this fact correctly is one of the strongest arguments (among many other things) against it being some sort of forgery, for the exact same reason given above. The common misconception was traditionally dominant for over a thousand years of Church history, so that anyone attempting to make a forgery would not have considered the correct placement of the nails in the wrist, much less known the fact that, if the nail was placed there, it would slice the median nerve, causing the thumbs to fold sharply in over the palms of the hands, as is also correctly portrayed in the Shroud.

I don’t actually see a problem, again for the exact same reason given above. Because it was (and to a certain degree still is) the traditional understanding, I don’t see a single reason why God couldn’t simply allow the stigmata to be presented this way, because it’s simply the fact that that’s how Christians would have recognized it. (Not to mention the fact that it’s probably much more unhealthy and life-threatening for someone to be walking around with bleeding holes in their wrist without a nail driven in there to hold back most of the arterial bleeding.)

Mel Gibson did research it. In fact, he used the wounds portrayed on the Shroud as a huge inspiration for how he portrayed the scourging that Christ recieved, and the crowning of thorns, etc… However, he intentionally (and arguably, unfortunately) chose to use his artistic license to place the nails in the palm instead of the wrist, because, again, he knew that that was the way that most people understood it and were expecting it. He did it with full knowledge that he was not portraying the crucifixion with absolutely perfect historical detail. The same goes for Christ carrying the full cross… historical evidence indicates that he would have only carried the crossbeam across his shoulders (just as the two criminals being led away with Christ in The Passion did). But again, Mel Gibson intentionally chose to go with the traditional representation, rather than the perfectly historical one, for artistic and aesthetic reasons.


First of all the word ‘fake’ has very negative connotations … I believe stigmata can quite possibly be a psychologically-induced phenomenon of some sort rather than a supernatural one, but very unlikely in the case of our saints to be ‘fake’ or artificially produced with the intent to deceive.

As to wrists v palms - if the Romans were using ropes as well as nails it quite possibly wouldn’t be necessary to nail through the wrists. Then there’s the fact that for a stigmatic to have wounds in their wrists would seriously impede their ability to use their hands in everyday tasks - perhaps it’s just Our Lord being a little considerate of them? :slight_smile:


**Pierre Barbet Revisited

Barbet’s studies are centered around three major hypotheses:

*]The man of the Shroud of Turin was nailed through an area of the wrist called Destot’s Space and not through the palm of the hand.
*]The missing thumb on the Shroud was due to injury to the median nerve by the passage of the nail.
*]The man of the Shroud died of asphyxiation. [/LIST] It is the purpose of this paper to demonstrate that all three hypotheses of Barbet are, in fact, untenable.


why would they waste rope?


Thanks for the link…very interesting stuff. I find it particularly interesting that one of the photos shows a nail piercing the palm of the hand near the thumb. So maybe the tradition isn’t as wrong as we have believed?


I can’t speak with any authority because I am not actually a catholic, but could it be possible that the stigmata is something like a real symbol? I mean something like baptism and the eucharist. They are symbols but they are also much more than that. I may be misunderstanding the doctrines on these but they seem to have a similarity. The stigmata may be real and they also symbolize the real wounds of Christ even though not in a literal sense. Just as the communion wine really is the blood of Christ and also a symbol of the real spent blood of Christ. I don’t see these as mutually exclusive.

Forgive me if I am misunderstanding the doctrines.



If we follow CS Lewis, there is no reason why psychologically induced phenomena cannot be a gift from God at the same time.


Regarding stigmata:
I love Padre Pio’s (a stigmatist) words:

Quote from “Padre Pio: The True Story” by C. Bernard Ruffin

Padre Pio showed no interest whatsoever in attempts to explain his stigmata. When asked why his hand wounds were in the palms rather than in the wrists (where victims of crucifixion were routinely nailed), he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Oh, I guess it would be too much to have them exactly like they were in the case of Our Lord.” When people suggested that the stigmata were caused by too great a degree of concentration on the Passion of Christ, Pio responded, “Go out to the fields and look very closely at a bull. Concentrate on him with all your might and see if you start to grow horns.”



That’s what “most likely” means. He is speculating that it is fake, but saying that it is only probable that it is fake and that he doesn’t know. That’s why he said “most likely fake” and not simply “Stigmata is fake.” So your point is redundant.


the debate on the placement of the nails in the crucifixion is irrelevant to the topic of stigmata, which in any case are not replications of the actual wounds of Christ, but a phenomenon of miraculous origin (in the very few cases proven to be genuine through the canonization of the subject after death) which indicates the person has attained in their lifetime the very rare spiritual state of union with Christ, which for most of us will not occur until after death, in heaven. Not all saints who have attained this unitive state have exhibited stigmata, but those that have bear this mark as a sign of their union with the sufferings of Christ.


Actually, when Jesus was nailed on the cross, his wrist were nailed. This is proven base on archeological facts.

In the Greek, the word hands include the wrist. Cahleen Shrier, Ph.D. Professor of the Department of Biology and Chemistry states this.

The accused needed to be nailed to the patibulum while lying down, so Jesus is thrown to the ground, reopening His wounds, grinding in dirt, and causing bleeding. They nail His “hands” to the patibulum. The Greek meaning of “hands” includes the wrist. It is more likely that the nails went through Jesus’ wrists. If the nails were driven into the hand, the weight of the arms would cause the nail to rip through the soft flesh.




Did you read the link I provided all the way through? What are your thoughts on the article?


I agree. Baptism really does convey real Grace. The Eucharist really is Christ’s real Body and Blood. But also they serve as symbols and reminders. Just like the Stigmata. It could be that the Stigmata, especially in the case of St. Francis, are indeed real gifts of the Holy Spirit. But, because we are so used to seeing them there, they are given in the palm so that the symbolism is not lost on us.

Also, just because the Stigmata might well be a psychological phenomenon doesn’t mean that they are “fake” in the way that word is usually used.


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