Movie Poster—Stigmata
Prayer Focus
Movie Review


MPAA Rating: R for intense violent sequences, language and some sexuality

Reviewed by: Mike Perschon

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Supernatural Thriller
1 hr. 42 min.
Year of Release:

Starring: Patricia Arquette, Gabriel Byrne, Jonathan Pryce, Nia Long, Rade Serbedgia | Directed by Rupert Wainwright | Produced by Frank Mancuso, Jr. | Written by Tom Lazarus, Rick Ramage | Distributed by MGM

Editor’s Note: “Stigmata” is a mixed bag that brings out quite opposing views amongst Christians. For a look at both sides, I have included two opposing viewpoints in this review.

Another view…

“Stigmata” is a movie that blends Christian Mysticism with Narcissistic Cynicism: resulting in a movie which glorifies Satan more than it glorifies God. According to the Catholic Church, stigmata are reserved only for those who are closest to Christ’s nature. However, Frankie Paige, a foul-mouthed atheist (who becomes possessed by an evil spirit) is chosen to receive such an honor. While the movie attempts to portray her evil spirit as the spirit of a former priest, her mystical powers are only akin to those of the dark realm of Satan. And no godly person would ever say the things that come out of her mouth!

Furthermore, Andrew Kiernan, the priest/scientist, tells her that the nearer one gets to Christ the more demonic power and influence they must endure (and that means not only enduring stigmata, but also being tormented and tortured by Satan). Whatever happened to the verse that says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you”? Are we to believe that even though the Kingdom of God is within us that we are powerless against Satan and his cohorts? I thought we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus and not victims.

“Stigmata” is a movie that should be avoided at all cost. It is deceptive, unbiblical and inundated with blasphemous content! By the way, stigmata are the 5 wounds of Christ: 1. Hands/wrists 2. Back 3. Head 4. Feet and 5. Side. While Paige suffers 4 of the 5, St. Francis of Assisi is claimed to have only suffered 2. This makes her even holier than St. Francis, himself! And if you saw the movie you had to see the ending, which had her conveniently standing next to his statue in similar costume and pose. They even had her feeding a dove, just like the statue.
—Rev. W.J. Kimble

Scene from Stigmata

As a pastor, I went to “Stigmata” out of a proactive approach I have had with movies dealing with religious themes ever since “Seventh Sign” starring Demi Moore was released. I believe that, if you don’t know what the movie is about, you won’t be able to comment intelligently on it, right or wrong. After “Stigmata” received such a powerful response at the box office, I figured I ought to check it out.

I went with the expectation of being very offended from a Christian standpoint, but instead was quite impressed by the main theme of the film, which echoes Jesus' words from Luke 17:21 concerning the Kingdom of Heaven being “within you.” (NIV)

“Stigmata” is about a hairdresser named Paige who, although she is a self-proclaimed atheist, begins to manifest stigmata, the wounds of Christ. A priest whose job is essentially to debunk miracles is sent to investigate her condition, discovering the validity of her situation, as well as a cover up by the Vatican to suppress a new gospel which has been found and translated. I won’t give away the surprises, although I will say that this movie has more to do with Heaven than Hell. The ads which claim it “will scare the hell into you” are working on hype, not accuracy.

This film is not a fantastic one, but it would make a great conversation starter among non-believers. I don’t recommend it for the weak of stomach, since there is a copious amount of blood due to the Stigmatic wounds. There is a fair amount of bad language, some shadow sex (meaning in the dark and not full frontal), a depiction of the night club scene (including the proposal of sex made by a prostitute to the priest) and, as I’ve already mentioned, some disturbing scenes involving the Stigmata.

I would say go and check it out if you have friends who already have or who are planning to. I also recommend it to pastors looking for good visual parables, as there at least two scenes worthy of working off of for a sermon… the first concerning the priest’s reasons for leaving the scientific community, and the other being what the new gospel says and why it is so dangerous.

Viewer Comments
I was insulted by the premise of this movie. Trying to make sacred the profane. Confusing stigmata, a supposed manifestation of holiness, with demonic possession is just sloppy. The whole New Age-Pantheistic-Gnostic-Matrix-like message that we can save ourselves if we “just knew the power we already possess within ourselves and within nature!” is garbage. The Bible is very clear that we possess no intrinsic ability to save ourselves. It is only through His active grace that we are saved. Christian or not, this movie was just lousy and visually nauseating. Not worth the conversation it may or may not provoke. I’m tired of seeing movies that make me feel like sewage when they’re over. Note—“Name of the Rose” while graphic in parts, is a much better film story-wise. My Ratings: [1/2]
—Chris Himes, age 26
I have mixed feelings on this movie. Yes, if you look you can find the Christian themes “between the lines,” but for many people, they don’t look between the lines and the overview of this film is very offensive from a Christian perspective. Also, the thing where how she was possessed by this so-called-saint, last time I checked they didn’t use profanity as she quite frequently blurted out during her possession times, including many uses of the “F-word”. So it’s not really one for just anyone to go see, you have to see it with an open mind and look for the underlying Christian themes. My Ratings: [1½/3½]
—Daniel Mays, age 16
The movie “Stigmata” was silly and theologically incorrect. It makes a mockery of all committed Christians by glorifing a sad little secularist as worthy of the highest external markings of a saint. In other words the wounds of Christ are a pot luck kind of thing and no one has to worry about changing thier life until they are visited by some visible sign. The movie also continues Hollywood’s secular agenda to glorify a new age individualistic spirituality. It also furthers that peculiarly American prejudice of attacking Catholicism. The movie makes this point loud and clear by trying to prove that the Church’s condemnation of the so called gospel of Thomas is a secret conspiracy.

Actually the Thomas document has been read and rejected by most competent biblical scholars both inside and outside the Church. The point that is missed is that the Church has always rejected this document as part of the canon of scripture, not as some secret gospel that attacks the church and should be suppressed. The document is widely available. This whole controvesy reminds me of the scriptural admonition that powers and principalities will always attack the true people of God and that they must live as a sign of contradiction to the values of the modern world… My Ratings: [1/2]
—Gerry Jackson, age 38
I thought the movie was very heretical. Although I’m Baptist, if I were Catholic I would be very offended. Although I don’t believe in stigmata, if it were to happen, it would happen to very devout Christians, not atheists. The only possessions in the bible are demonic, never spirits from saints. This spirit, although supposedly a priest, was evil. The gospel of Thomas is passed off as being a real gospel. Many others wrote about Christ, but only those writings inspired by God are Gospels, of which, only 4 qualify. The message of this gospel, “break a twig and I am there, lift a rock and I am there” creates a pantheistic worldview. Virtually all cults begin with a false view of God. God is found all around us, Omnipresent. But not in the things around us. That is a naturalistic view, totally anti-Christian. I went to this movie as research to combat the questions of those who ask of me. I wish Hollywood would quite making movies with Christian themes, and making heresy of them.
—Craig, age 31
As I recently conformed Christian, I have to say this movie was great! It totally goes by how only the Bible should be followed, without any additional doctrines and protocols (churches, priests, etc). Forget everything about the STIGMATA… that was just added to make the money. If you take that out, you get a priest possessing a girl to get the true message of Jesus Christ out! There was absolutely no evil in this movie, except for the Catholic Church (who shouldn’t have been slammed THAT bad). I can’t believe Hollywood actually put out such a great plot-driven movie (again, take out the STIGMATA parts)! And the best message in the film? Just because you don’t believe in Hell, doesn’t mean you’re not going there. Nice!
—LeXXJoO, age 20
A critical note about the ending. The movie ends by calling attention to the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, as though it is a suppressed document. Oh Oh, “evil” catholic Church! Well, I have news. It is not suppressed, as you may know, and copies of it can be easily purchased! (Go to your local library). Written before A.D. 400, the Gospel of Thomas is a collection of 114 supposedly “secret sayings”… “which Jesus the living one spoke and Didymus Judas Thomas wrote down.” This document is one of almost fifty discovered in 1945 in Upper Egypt as a part of what many scholars believe was the library of a Gnostic community (Gnosticism has always been rejected by the Church ever since the second century. Nothing new). The heretical emphases of the Gospel of Thomas are countered in advance by the Epistle of 1 John, which emphasizes the gospel of Jesus Christ as the message of life, available for every person to experience, not just a select few as in gnostic Gospel of Thomas… Origène, an ecclesiastic writer and priest in the 3rd century, already spoke about this presumed Gospel of Thomas. He wrote : “I know that there exists a Gospel ‘according to saint Thomas.’ But we aprove nothing of it. The Church admits only four gospels. The Church, indeed, has four gospels; the heretics, many.” As for the movie, it looked like some sort of wacky, endless MTV video…
—Benoit Morrier, age 25
I think that the movie “Stigmata” is a very interesting movie. I think that the movie was more of a metaphor than a literal movie. If you take some of the “little things” in the movie like the attitude of the lead character, Paige, we will see a great change. In the beginning she has a snotty attitude and is not willing to give up her way. By the end of the movie she is listening and cooperative with people. I am a Biblical and Theological student and I thought that it brought the Christian walk of faith to life in a movie format. When you look at the statement of “The closer you come to the truth and closer to the end of the stigmata the more tempted you will be.” This is true for all Christians. The closer you come to God the more Satan tries to kick you down. I think that this is a great movie. It has its scary scenes but overall I think that it is a movie that Christians should see. Only if you want to have to answer some questions though!
—Kirk Lewis, age 21
It was a good film, a lot of Jewish people really wanted this movie to be seen. As usual, Catholics are covering up a deeper issue here. Read between the lines and do some research. This movie has a lot of hidden messages in it.
I will agree with many of my fellow reviewers that this movie, to put it lightly, stunk! Its one redeeming quality was the questions it raised about the validity of St. Thomas' gospel. As a Christian man, I am intruiged and skeptical of such a testament of Jesus. But like I am, I encourage you to research this account and make your own decision about its place in the testament of Jesus.
—Jeff Staples, age 15
I think this was a great movie, if you look beyond the obvious. I think most people nowadays like everything at a shallow level, and never wish to plumb the depths, including their “so-called” faith. Give them their weekly dose of Sunday pleasantries and they are happy. This was a movie that challenges the viewer to really think what faith is all about. Is it blind, or is it the one that is commanded by God, to love Him with our heart, soul, mind and might. If we love Him with our minds then we should be willing to make a ready defence for the hope that is within us. I see that the movie was not really anti-Christian but leaning more towards challenging some of the Catholic doctrines. Of course, there is the usual Hollywood sensationalism, but that is unavoidable from a secular source. I hope that people would look beyond the obvious, and see the subtle message of the movie, which was not anti-Christian.
—Peter Sayal, age 23
The movie was about a girl named Paige. She was possessed by a mesenger from God to write the missing bible written by God. She experiences the things Jesus went threw when he was nailed to the cross. She receives wounds like slashes on her back. She struggles with the demons that torment her and the closer she gets to God the more she is tormented. A priest is sent to investigate and see if she was given the gift cald Stigmata. I thought the movie was great. Compared to many other movies out there today it showed that the main character, Paige, was leading a bad life. It made her realize that she was sinning and that God did exist. I think the movie was not to be taken literally. In my opinion I would never consider this movie terrible. I would like to buy it when it comes out and maybe see it agen on the big screen. I do recommend this movie.
—Brandy Friday, age 15
This movie took a staggering hit at Catholicism… Overall, I think what the Catholics were trying to cover up in the movie was nearly Christian—“I am in you and all around you.” I was quite surprised. There was one part where a “father” was in the catholic church, and another man came to talk to him and said something to the effect of “this building means nothing….” I was curious if any of you saw this, and thought the same thing. I do however want to point out that if you want to see it because of this, it is far from a Christian movie, I just felt that the material that was being covered up seemed Christian… like I said, I was surprised.
—Anthony, age 20
…an “Exorcist” wannabe …peculiarly heretical by confusing the effects of being possessed by Jesus and by Beelzebub. …priest comes into possession of a lost gospel “told in the words of Jesus himself” …possibly the funniest movie ever made about Catholicism—from a theological point of view …has generated outrage in some Catholic circles.
—Roger Ebert
So far, the strongest contender for worst movie of the year… Not only does it make explicit—and unbelievably crass—Hollywood’s anti-religious bent, but its advocacy of an alternative spirituality is laughably clumsy, a hodgepodge of hippie-New Age solipsism and fashionable conspiracy theory (why won’t the Church acknowledge the authenticity of the apocryphal Gospel of St. Thomas?) for which it has the gall to claim a divine sanction. This comes in the form of the Stigmata of the wounds of the crucified Christ, as visited upon an atheist and sexual adventuress… God, in order to be sufficiently visually interesting, is usefully represented as a Poltergeist. …[message] Every man his own savior!
—James Bowman, Movie Takes