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Stigmata ....Subject: Plot Structure

The film, "Stigmata," is based on factual elements such as an ancient document called the
Gospel of St. Thomas; real-life phenomena known as the stigmata; and the experiences of Padre Pio, a priest who possessed the stigmata, the wounds inflicted upon Christ during the crucifixion.

In "Stigmata," the subject is a set of ancient scrolls containing the Gospel of St. Thomas, the actual words of Jesus Christ.

In the film, the meaning of the scrolls is discovered by three priests, one of whom--Father Alameida (Jack Donner)--dies in his church
in Belo Quinto, Brazil.

The situation that helps clarify the importance of his death is the theft of his necklace of rosary beads, which is given to Frankie Paige (Patricia Arquette), a woman hairdresser who is an atheist.

She is afflicted by the stigmata, the wounds of Christ, after receiving the necklace from her mother, who bought the object from a young boy in Belo Quinto.

As she receives the wounds of Christ, she becomes possessed with the spirit of Father Alameida. Her possession was brought about by Alameida's necklace.

As the new incarnation of Alameida, she begins to reveal the contents of the Gospel of St. Thomas.

Father Andrew Kiernan (Gabriel Byrne), a priest who investigates
paranormal religious phenomena for a Vatican official named Cardinal Houseman (Jonanthan Pryce), comes to her aid, trying to find the cause and meaning of her stigmata-induced possession.

But Cardinal Houseman intervenes, trying to protect the power of the Vatican by preventing her from revealing the true meaning of the scrolls containing the Gospel of St. Thomas.

The Gospel of St. Thomas
( ) does exist. It was "discovered in 1945" and is "not recognized by
the Vatican."

The wounds of the stigmata are indeed real phenomena that have affected Catholic saints throughout history, as is discussed in "Mystical Stigmata" ( an article in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Father Alameida, the priest whose soul possesses the body and mind of Frankie Paige, is based on the real-life saint, Padre Pio (, a priest who had the stigmata, the wounds inflicted upon Christ during the crucifixion.

The character of Father Alameida in the film, "Stigmata," resembles Pio, and the official Web site for the film ( contains a biography of Padre Pio.

The BBC reported on March 6, 2002, that a statue of Pio was crying tears of blood and that he had been "the first priest in centuries to show the stigmata - the wounds to hands, feet and side suffered by Jesus at his crucifixion."

In the film, "Stigmata," a statue next to the body of Father Alameida also weeps blood. The character, Father Kiernan, investigates this phenomenon, photographing it and later showing the photos to his boss, Cardinal Houseman.

Alameida suffered from the stigmata, and the weeping statue communicates that fact. When his soul later possesses the body of Frankie Paige, she too experiences his Christ-like wounds.

CNN reported that Padre Pio, the real-life stigmatic, was declared a saint by the Pope on June 16, 2002: (

This makes it all-the-more apparent why Alameida is shown to possess the complete translation of the Gospel of St. Thomas in the film, "Stigmata."    Screenwriters should study this film as an example of how to dramatize factual information.

They should examine the way in which Tom Lazarus and Rick Ramage, the screenwriters who wrote "Stigmata," combined historical information about Padre Pio with the Gospel of St. Thomas.

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