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Doctor Margnelli’s report

    Marco Margnelli, surgeon, specialized in general surgery, was a neurophysiological researcher at the National Research Council (CNR) for 15 years. For years he has been studying modified states of consciousness by carrying out experimental research on the hypnagogic state, dreams, states of consciousness induced by psychotropic substances and hypnotic trance.He studied mystical ecstasy in depth, being able to directly observe numerous episodes, including those of the seers of Medjugorje.
    He was also deeply interested in the phenomenon of stigmata, being able to directly study five bearers of these mystical wounds. He is currently director of the Center for Studies and Research on the Psychophysiology of States of Consciousness, president of the Italian Society for the Study of States of Consciousness, author of more than a hundred scientific publications and author of five books.

    On April 17, 2003, Holy Thursday, together with a television crew, I went to the hotel (a hotel for religious, in Rome) opposite the Vatican, where the stigmatized person was a guest. I was invited by Mons. Giovanni D’Ercole (on behalf of the Church) and the journalist Piero Vigorelli. While walking along the corridor that led to the room where Elia lay in bed, one could smell a very strong scent of roses, the intensity of which ended up being almost annoying and, if possible, even stronger in the room, even if after about ten minutes you ended up getting used to it and hardly feeling it anymore. As I later realized, the perfume impregnated the clothes, so that in the evening I could also make my family smell it. Since the morning, Elijah had entered a state of consciousness that was difficult to classify, during which he had begun to sweat and weep serum-blood as he experienced the initial events of the Passion. He probably had episodes of ecstasy, during which he lost contact with reality and mimicked the events that preceded the last supper and Jesus’ ecstasy in the Garden of Olives

    These were alternated with moments of complete lucidity during which the stigmatized person checked the time, issued instructions and conversed with those present. The stigmata were covered with bandages and did not shed blood. The serum-blood sweat was abundant, it affected the head and chest and stained both the linen and the sheet as well as a towel suitably placed to protect the pillow.
    Elijah was wearing a cotton T-shirt and the sweat/blood stains stopped at the waist.

    Using a psychogalvanometer, which provides instantaneous measurements of skin conductance, I was able to ascertain that during the episodes of probable ecstasy both tactile and pain sensitivity disappeared. The pupils were miotic and normally responsive to light. By means of an electrostimulator whose electrodes were applied to the ventral aspect of the right forearm, I also ascertained that the muscles were excitable both during periods of presumable ecstasy and in those of a normal state of consciousness, but that during the state of ecstasy to obtain a response, it was necessary to stimulate with current intensities three times greater than those which induced a response in a state of normal consciousness.

    The next day, April 18, Good Friday, I observed Elijah from 11am to 5pm. Compared to the previous day, the most salient novelty consisted in the appearance of the signs of the crown of thorns and the flagellation. As for the former, they were vertical wounds that radiated downwards from the hairline. They were superficial and resembled grazes. They didn’t bleed. They were extremely painful and as soon as I tried to move my hair to get a better look at them, Elijah protested loudly. The signs of flagellation, on the other hand, consisted of red streaks in the lateral regions of the back, in an oblique direction from the posterior axillary line towards the center of the back, about 30-35 centimeters long, very superficial and not bleeding.
    During the morning hours the state of consciousness of the stigmatized person was completely similar to that of the previous day and I checked the sensitivity, muscular excitability and functionality of the pupils obtaining the same results as on Thursday. In a moment in which the stigmatized seemed ecstatic, I called him:

    Around noon ON GOOD FRIDAY he invited all those present (six people) to leave the room and leave him alone, saying that he would call us back at the right time. After lunch we waited at the bedroom door and about half past two we were summoned by cries for help shouted in undisguised anguish. As soon as we entered, the stigmatized began to shout:

    “Mark, help me! Mark, help me!”,turning to me. So I sat down on the edge of the bed and listened to his heart, which was pounding wildly, while his breathing became labored and the expression on his face betrayed great suffering. Not knowing what else to do, I grabbed his hands and held them tightly until he gasped, arched over his back, turned blue in the face, and stopped breathing.

    I realized that he had experienced the death of Jesus and in fact shortly after the color of her face had returned to normal, her breathing had reappeared and her pulse had also regularized.It was around three in the afternoon and from that moment on Elia remained unconscious, with his eyes closed, motionless, as if he were sleeping. I rechecked the tactile and pain sensations, which were preserved, I checked the muscle excitability, which was normal, and I checked the pupillary reactivity to light, which was present.
    I took several photographs of the signs of the crown of thorns which appear only once a year, in Holy Week, and of the signs of flagellation, which also appear only on the occasion of Easter.
    The next day, Saturday the 19th, in the morning, I returned to the hotel and found Elia in excellent shape, fresh, shaven and cheerful. He had unwrapped the stigmata, which appeared fresh and dry. The crown of thorns marks were noticeably pale and covered in a crust of serum, “healing” (I was told they disappear in three days). Even the red stripes of the flagellation had faded and were difficult to distinguish. The intense scent of roses from the previous days had disappeared. I was assured that during Thursday and Friday the stigmatized person did not eat, drank only a few teaspoons of tea and did not pass his bowel or urinate.
    I proceeded to photograph all the stigmatic lesions and after a short conversation I left. From what I was able to understand, Elijah relived the events of the Passion following the story of the Gospel of Luke. On Thursday, after the last supper, Jesus goes to the Garden of Olives, where he experiences the anguish of knowing that his death sentence is imminent (“Father, if you want, remove this cup from me. THE MYSTERY OF LIGHT 17 However, not my will but yours be done”, Luke 22:42). He is consoled by an angel (“An angel then appeared to him from heaven to comfort him”, Luke 22, 43) and, in fact, Elijah, in moments of lucidity on the afternoon of Thursday 17, claimed to see various angels around him.
    Then, Luke continues, Jesus went into ecstasy (which, as we have seen above, the evangelist defines as “agony”), during which he sweated blood (“His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground”, Luke 22, 44) and, as we have seen, Elijah lay covered in sheets soaked in blood serum, wore a T-shirt dotted with pink spots and wept bloody tears. On the morning of April 18, Good Friday, the signs of the crown of thorns appear on Elijah’s forehead and the stripes of flagellation appear on his back (in this Elijah deviates from the chronicle of the Passion of Luke, which does not report these episodes and follows the narration of John 19, 1 and 2: “Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. Then the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, placed it on his head and covered him with a purple robe…”). In the late morning Elijah comes out of ecstasy and invites those present to leave him alone, so that I could not understand which part of the Passion he was about to relive, nor why he did not want witnesses. Instead, around half past two in the afternoon, when he called us back crying out for help and when he asked me to help him, he was clearly living the agony of Jesus and, shortly after, as I shook his hands, he experienced death.

    As a scholar who has been interested in and studying the phenomenon of stigmatization for years, I consider it a great fortune and a great privilege to have been able to witness Elijah’s ecstasy. It is my habit to keep my role as a scholar rigorously separated from any emotional or ideological involvement, so that even on this occasion I only made an effort to observe as many elements of scientific value as emerged from what I was seeing. However, I must confess that my steadfastness weakened when, holding Elijah’s hands tightly, I realized that it was as if I were holding the dying Jesus’ hands in mine and then I could not avoid an intense emotion. I thank Elia for having granted me this privilege and for having shown me with it a great esteem.

    Doc. Marco Margnelli

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