I caught the 1999 film Stigmata on TV the other night. Thankfully, it was the unedited version and was on Flix. I hadn’t seen the film in years and was pretty impressed with the fact that it was very upfront and in-your-face with it’s Christian message and background. Now I’m not saying that it doesn’t have it’s theological problems. But the overall message that God and Jesus Christ are real and not found in buildings and structures but in each one of us as Christians was very straightforward. Before we continue on with the rest of my commentary, let me include a brief synopsis on the film for those that may not have seen it. “A lost soul has just received the wounds of Christ and a shocking message that will alter history. Frankie Paige has absolutely no faith in God. All of that changes when she suddenly begins to suffer the Stigmata – the living wounds of the crucified Christ. Frankie’s miraculous bleeding comes to the attention of the Vatican’s top investigator, Father Kiernan. But when Cardinal Houseman discovers that Frankie is actually channeling an extraordinary and provocative message that could destroy the Church, he’s convinced that she – and the force possessing her – must be forever silenced. Determined to stop this deadly conspiracy, Kiernan risks his faith andhis life to save her and the message that will change the destiny of mankind forever!”
One of the major problems with the film is the idea that a new book is found that was written by Jesus himself and that certain leaders in the Catholic church and Vatican want this covered up because what it has to say will change the face of religion and the way people have to “come to God.” The book states in Jesus’ own words how we don’t need buildings and sanctuaries to reach God. We each can have God within us. It also states that we don’t need priests and other mediators to talk to God, but can get to him directly. Now, this all sounds fine and dandy, but The Bible we already have tells us all this. Why do we need to find a new book that says the same thing? This plot line also is in direct opposition of the words in Revelation that no one is to add or take away anything from The Word of God.
Another problem with the film is the idea that someone can be possessed by a another dead Christian, priest, or Saint. While it makes for an interesting and disturbing film, it still isn’t very rooted in Biblical truth. Patricia Arquette’s character is one moment possessed by a dead priest and then then next by a demon. I can see where it might confuse the non-religious common everyday movie watchers.
I find it strange that pretty much every movie that comes out that explores religious themes in horror use the Catholic church for it’s religious backbone. Very rarely do you ever see a Southern Baptist preacher or Methodist minister. I know that it has a lot to do with all the iconic imagery that Catholicism uses, like crucifixes, rosaries, the priest’s dress, holy water, and everything else. It’s interesting that the leaders of the catholic church in a lot of these films end up being corrupt and ultimately self-serving in their actions. There are a lot of angry ex-Catholics out there in Hollywood apparently. Haha!
I found it pretty cool that God decided to use the Stigmata to reach out through an unbeliever. They don’t really address it, but how in the world could Frankie not believe in Jesus Christ and God after going through all of that. I guess she could have stayed mad about it that God would put her through such a thing just to deliver His message.
In closing, Stigmata takes a very controversial subject and uses it in a horror film atmosphere to teach us that we don’t need priests to intercede for us and buildings to worship in to reach God. All we need to do is accept him in our personal lives and he dwells within each of us. As The Bible states – we are the temples of the Holy Spirit.
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