"Do you know what’s scarier than not believing in God? Believing in Him. I mean, really fucking believing in Him is terrifying because if there is a God, he hates me."
Description: Patricia Arguette as Frankie Paige, whose body suddenly develops mystical stigmata signs (the five wounds of Christ) in the motion picture Stigmata (1999).
Frankie Paige is a party-going, atheist and hairdresser from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who has been chosen by some supernatural entity as a vessel to communicate a message that could shake the foundations of the Catholic church and its believers.
Frankie's problems begin when she receives a package in the mail from her vacationing mother that contains a pair of rosary beads. The rosary was stolen from the hands of deceased Father Alameida (Jack Donner) as his body lay next to a statue of the Virgin of Guadeloupe that was apparently weeping tears of real blood.
After handling the item, Frankie begins to feel sick and vomits, giving her the idea that she may be pregnant, but her condition has more to do with the supernatural. Later while taking a bath she is attacked by unseen forces and her wrists are pierced with Stigmata-like wounds. And still another attack by unseen forces while riding in a subway car.
Enter Father Andrew Kiernan (Gabriel Byrne), an ordained Jesuit priest and researcher of alleged "miracles" who had been investigating the weeping Virgin statue in South America. When the Vatican gets wind of Frankie's incident in the subway and her claims of Stigmata, the church sends Kiernan to investigate and quietly put a close to the matter.
|Dr. Reston:||And are there any problems with a significant other?|
|Dr. Reston:||Which is?|
|Frankie:||I'm not very significant.|
When Frankie next has a violent convulsion, she is taken to the hospital and misdiagnosed with a possible case of epilepsy. She continues to experience bizarre visions, wounds, gashes, cuts and bleeding, (all consistent to the whipping, Crown of Thorn marks and impalements received by Jesus in his hands and feet). She even undergoes an exorcism and is found scratching strange symbols into the hood of a car while shouting in a male voice the ancient dialect of Aramaic - the language of Jesus.
At one point, Frankie has covered the walls of her apartment with ancient writings which Father Kiernan photographs walls and sends to a church official to have translated. The translation reveals the words to be from a lost gospel that offered an alternative vision of Christ's teachings.
Finally, Keenan realizes the seemingly demonic possession is actually the spirit of Father Alameida who was trying to communicate the discovery of a lost gospel. Originally, Alameida (who had himself suffered with Stigmata) had been assigned to translate the lost gospel for the Vatican, but he (and two other translators) where ordered to stop. Alameida refused, stole the document to continue translating it alone. He died before he could reveal the message to the world.
Pleading with the spirit of the priest to release Frankie, Kiernan promises to become his messenger and voice in matters of the gospel. Content, the spirit departs in peace, and reveals the lost gospel can be found under the floorboards of Alameida's church in the village of Belo Quinto in Brazil.
The alleged lost gospel was discovered outside Jerusalem. It was believed to be the words of Jesus in which he told his disciples that the Kingdom of God is all around them and not confined to churches. Kiernan retrieves the documents and delivers them to the Vatican.
Note: At the end of the film, the audience is shown a message about the discovery of a real lost Gospel of Thomas, which is believed to be an accurate depiction of Jesus teachings. The Catholic Church considers that gospel to be heresy and refuses to recognize it.
In the motion picture Love and Death (1975) Woody Allen as devout coward Boris Dimitrovich Gruschenko comments, “If it turns out there is a God, I don’t think He’s evil. The worst thing you can say about Him is that He’s basically an underachiever.”
In the motion picture Fanny and Alexander (1983) a Swede named Alexander Ekdahl (Bertil Guve) comments “If there is a God, he is a shit.”