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Samoa PM embraces stigmata as a miracle

Saturday 9 April 2016 | Published in Regional

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Samoa – Samoa’s Prime Minister has praised a young Samoan woman who claims to be carrying the marks of Jesus Christ’s suffered during his crucifixion.

While Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi admits that no one fully understands such events, he said it is “a miracle that should be celebrated”.

“We should be happy about these events that it has happened to a daughter of a pastor in Samoa,” Tuilaepa told the media. “If it happens to someone, it means they are holy.

“I’m thankful to the family and the parents for the spiritual upbringing of this girl. In most cases the Catholic church knows best about the events and it happens to mainly preachers, nuns and especially those who are devoted Christians.”

But Tuilaepa rejected claims that the event could be a warning for a future disaster.

“These events don’t happen because of sins,” he insisted. “Only those who have no faith would feel that way but if it happens to someone, it is a reminder of the life we live in.

“If you did wrong try and improve your ways. The most amazing thing that God did when he created us he gave man a soul so that they will live through to the everlasting life.”

According to Tuilaepa stigmata actually happens to people and it is known to be a miracle.

“This is Christ’s answer to those prayers,” the prime minister told the Samoa Observer.

A member of the Catholic church, Tuilaepa made reference to several historic cases of stigmata that the Catholic church is aware of.

One of them is St Padre Pio of Pietrelcina of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.

In September 1918, while hearing confessions, Padre Pio had his first occurrence of the stigmata in locations corresponding to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The “phenomenon” continued for fifty years, until the end of his life. Padre Pio’s wounds were examined by many people, including physicians.

He reportedly wrote that although he had been granted the stigmata, he had been so terrified by the phenomenon he begged the Lord to withdraw them.

He did not wish the pain to be removed, only the visible wounds, since at the time he considered them to be an indescribable and almost unbearable humiliation.

Tuilaepa told the Samoa Observer that a stigmatist’s marks never fade and do not become infected.

“It does not smell of blood but of fragrance and even their corpses are incorruptible,” he said.

He recounted a second case of a German nun, Therese Neumann who in 1926, on the first Friday of Lent, reportedly had the wounds appear.

“She consumed no food or water other than the Holy Eucharist from 1926 until her death,” said Tuilaepa. “She died in 1961 without eating any food or drinking water for 35 years.”

The woman named in Samoan media as Toaipuapuaga Opapo Soana’i, 23, played the part of Jesus in a Sunday School Easter play where people noticed wounds appearing on her body.

The woman, who is the daughter of a protestant church minister, told local media she began seeing visions days before Easter.

Her claims about her wounds have sparked huge debate in the highly religious island nation.

Members of the public have taken to social media to discuss the authenticity of the woman’s claims.

Many people are backing Soana’i, calling the event a miracle. Many others, however, are sceptical, and many are saying it is a hoax.

Fears have been expressed that the young woman has suffered self harm.

A prominent Pentecostal pastor has cautioned Samoa’s Christians against rushing to accept the claims that the young woman is carrying the marks of Jesus Christ’s suffering.

Pastor Samoa Unoi, of the Peace Chapel Church, said that while he doesn’t want to judge the young woman, he doubts that what has been described as a miracle is in line with the word of God.

“It is not a sign from the Lord,” he said. “What I’m saying is based on the scriptures and my general understanding of the Bible and the word of God.”

Pastor Unoi added that there are many times people attribute occurrences to God when it fact it has nothing to do with him. He said God-inspired events bring positive changes, ones that impact lives in a positive way.

Asked about claims that the apperance of the stigmata in Samoa it is a warning from God, Pastor Unoi said he respectfully disagreed. He said if people are looking for a warning, the warning comes from the word of God, not people.

The father of the young girl, Reverend Opapo, who is an CCCs church minister has insisted that his daughter’s ordeal is a warning from God.

- Samoa Observer/PNC