I have told my relatives the difference is that in Italy and Spain the working classes favoured doctrinally atheistic Marxism, whereas those in Australia were very conservative and often practicing Catholics. Consequently, unusual means were needed for the Church to protect its right to state its moral position, since the working classes desired this impossible in order to eliminate opposition to the right to seize wealth workers believed the ruling and business classes usurped.
When today I read an article by Rod Dreher about the efforts of the US, especially the Northeastern states, to completely outlaw the practice of traditional Christianity as a step beyond legalisation of homosexual marriage, I recalled the story of Marie Rose Ferron, the only (major) stigmatist from North America. Upon reading Father Michael Freze’s They Bore the Wounds of Christ, I instantly took the fact that Ferron came from the most liberal and most atheistic region of the United States as proof that radical leftist working class politics was the driving force behind stories of stigmata and inedia (living only on the Holy Eucharist).
|Marie Rose Ferron with spiritual director Father Gauthier|
|These are pictures of Marie Rose Ferron’s feet|
At the very time Ferron received the stigmata a strongly Catholic Democratic “industrial machine” developed in the Northeast and Great Lakes. This may explain the timing of her story and that of Rhoda Wise, as beforehand Catholics may have been too few among the ruling class for such need. At the same time, many in the working classes of the Northeast favoured policies much more radical and morally liberal than either the mainstream Democratic Party or (especially) more radically Catholic organisations like the Catholic Worker. Thus a fear that Communism could take over was present among Catholics in the Northeast in a manner contemporaneously absent from the rest of North America, which was then generally too conservative.
The existence of a stigmatist in the middle of an industrial conurbation is certainly a challenge to the “primitive peasant culture” theory of stigmatists, and strengthens my notion that the critical requirements for stigmata stories are:
- a politically radical and atheist working class that seeks to erase Catholicism from the public sphere
- a ruling class with a strong influence from Catholicism whose power is an obstacle to (1) achieving its atheist goals