If you're not religious, stigmata sounds like a good name for a heavy metal band. However, if you are religious, stigmata means something entirely different. From what I can tell, they're either the actual wounds suffered by Jesus Christ on the cross, a reference to these wounds as displayed by somebody other than Jesus, or, possibly, the cousins of the Pokemon. Anyway, you've probably heard stories about statues of the Virgin Mary that bleed from the eyes and hands and feet. That would be an example of stigmata. It's also an example of some real spooky shit that causes most normal people to get up and move to another state.
In this movie, Frankie Page (Patricia Arquette), an admitted atheist, gets the stigmata because her mother sends her the rosary of a priest who died in Brazil. This priest had decoded a scroll that supposedly bore the actual words of Jesus, and when he died, he decided that he would travel around in his rosary as a tortured spirit.
I don't understand exactly what this priest expected to accomplish by traveling around in his rosary, but I don't think he expected to end up in Pittsburgh. Once Frankie starts bleeding from the hands and having visions, Father Andrew (Gabriel Byrne) shows up and tries to figure out what's wrong with her. He tries to deny that she has stigmata, because atheists don't get it, but he's finally convinced after she writes the entire scroll on her wall in some ancient language. This really irritates his boss, Cardinal Houseman (Jonathan Pryce), because he had assumed Frankie was just some freak.
If you believe "Stigmata," the church isn't very different from the mob. Apparently, if you do something that Cardinal Houseman doesn't like, he just has you killed. Furthermore, the argument that director Rupert Wainright puts forth is that if the Church would only recognize this mysterious scripture, things would be instantly peachy. Ironically, if this happened, Wainright would have to stop making movies.
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