( Originally Published 1883 )
That there have been, and continue still to be, in the Catholic Church, persons bearing in their bodies, the marks of the Lord Jesus, is well known. One of the most remarkable cases is that of Maria Dominica Lazari, a poor peasant girl, of the Italian Tyrol.
She was visited by the Earl of Shrewsbury in the year 1842, and he wrote an account of her in a pamphlet which appeared in that year. Several of the writer's friends visited her also, and, among others, he had a most circumstantial account of her case from the Hon. and Rev. George Spencer, whose truthfulness no one could doubt. Mr. Allies also, in 1847, visited her, and wrote an account of his visit. Perhaps this was the most awful copy of the sufferings of our divine Lord which has ever been witnessed. All agree that she was a pious and good Catholic ; all agree that neither she nor her friends could be induced to accept any money or gifts ; and all agree in the following facts, which are copied from Mr. Allies's letter :
" At the end of a low room, near the wall, on a bed hardly larger than a crib, Dominica lay crouched up, the hands closely clasped over the breast, the head a little raised, the legs gathered up nearly under her in a way the bedclothes did not allow us to see. About three-quarters of an inch under the roots of her hair a straight line is drawn all round the forehead, dotted with small punctures a quarter of an inch apart. Above this the flesh is of the natural colour, perfectly clear and free from blood. Below, the face is covered down to the bottom of the nose, and the cheeks to the same extent, with a dry crust or mask of blood. Her breast heaved with a sort of convulsion, and her teeth chattered. On the outside of both hands, as they lie clasped together in a line with the second finger about an inch from the knuckle, is a hard scar, of dark colour, rising above the flesh, half-an-inch in length by about three-eighths in width ; round these the skin is slightly reddened, but quite free from blood.
From the position of the hands, it is not possible to see well inside, but stooping down on the right of her bed I could almost see an incision answering to the outward one, and apparently deeper. I leaned over her head within a foot of the corona on her forehead and closely observed the wounds. She looked at us very fixedly, but hardly spoke. We heard her only cry " Dio Mio" several times when her pains were bad. She seemed to enter into Signor Yoris's conversation, smiled repeatedly, and bent her head. But it it was an effort to her to attend, and at times the eyes closed, and she became insensible. By far the most striking point in her appearance this evening was that dry mask of blood descending so regularly from the punctured line round the forehead, for it must be remarked that the blood has flowed in a straight line all down the face as if she were erect, not as it would naturally flow from the position in which she was lying, that is off the middle to the sides of the face. And what is strangest of all, there is a space all round the face, from the forehead down to the jaw, by the ears, quite free from blood, and of the natural colour, which is just that part to which the blood, as she lies, ought most to run.
Mr. Allies visited her again on the following day, and writes as follows :
When we visited Dominica at half-past five this morning, the change was very remarkable. The hard scars on the outside of her hands had sunk to the level of her flesh, and became raw, and fresh running wounds, but without indentation, from which there was a streak of blood, running a finger's length, not perpendicularly, but down the middle of the wrist. The wound inside the left hand seemed, on the contrary, deep and furrowed, much blood had flowed, and the hand seemed mangled ; the wound of the right hand, inside, could not be seen. The punctures round the forehead had been bleeding, and were open, so that the mask of blood was thicker, and very terrible to look at. The darkest place of all was the tip of the nose, a spot which, as she was lying, the blood, in its natural course, could not reach at all. It must be observed again, " that the blood flows as if she were suspended, and not recumbent." The sight is so fearful that a person of weak nerves would very probably be over-come by it. Indeed Signor Stamfa and his servant were both obliged to leave the room.
The points, says Mr. Allies, in her case which are beyond and contrary to nature are these :-
1st. For thirteen years she has neither eaten or drank, except that very small portion of the Host, which she receives once or twice weekly.
2nd. On the hands and feet, inside and outside, she bears the wounds of our Lord ; both sides run with blood ; whether the wounds go through is not known ; and on the left side is a wound which also bleeds.
3rd. She has on her brow, as I saw and I have described, and, I believe, all round the head, the mark of the crown of thorns, a series of punctures, and a red line as if of something pressing on the head.
4th. All these wounds run with blood at present, and during thirteen years have done the like, regularly, and at an early hour on Friday, and on that day alone.
Combining the first and fourth fact, we get a phenomenon which sets at utter defiance all physical science, and which seems to me a direct exertion of Almighty power, and of that alone.
" Medical men," said Signor Yoris, " have been in abundance to see her, and have studied her case, but no one has furnished the least solution of it." He assured me he had seen the wounds on her feet a hundred times, and that the blood flowed upwards, towards the toes, as we saw it did on the nose. Since for the last two years she has been contracted and drawn up by the disease, the feet can-not be seen."
If anything in this world can be called miraculous it is surely the suspension of the law of gravitation. Mr. Allies did not see the feet, which were then drawn up in the bed, as above mentioned, but in the account given by the Earl of Shrewsbury and by the Rev. Mr. Spencer, and who saw the feet also, the same miraculous fact, of the blood flowing upwards, was also attested.