Did Paul the Apostle have the ‘stigmata’? Paul wrote in his suffering:
From now on, don’t let anyone trouble me with these things. For I bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus. Galatians 6:17 (NLT)
I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. Colossians 1:24 (NLT)
even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 2 Corinthians 12:7 (NLT)
God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled. Acts 19:11-12 (NLT)
One theory is that the handkerchiefs in Acts were soaked in blood from Paul’s wounds, wounds resembling Jesus’ Crucifixion wounds. Thomas Aquinas wrote that:
For stigmata are, strictly speaking, certain marks branded on one with a hot iron; as when a slave is marked on the face by his master, so that no one else will claim him, but quietly let him remain with the master whose marks he bears. And this is the way the Apostle says he bears the marks of the Lord, branded, as it were, as a slave of Christ; and this, because he bore the marks of Christ’s passion, suffering many tribulations in his body for Him, according to the saying of 1 Peter (2:21): “Christ suffered for us, leaving you an example, that you should follow his steps”; “Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor 4: 10). Galations by St. Thomas Aquinas
Aquinas is of the opinion that the wounds of Paul referred to were caused by the beatings he suffered in defending Jesus. The NIV Study Bible notes for Galatians 6:17 “Paul’s suffering (stoning, beating, illness) marked him as a servant of Jesus”.
There is no doubt that Paul suffered greatly and would have been covered in scars. I think that Thomas Aquinas is right in that Paul did not have the ‘stigmata’, meaning he did not have wounds resembling the wounds of Jesus. If the phenomena of the ‘stigmata’ exists, it would require God to intentionally inflict pain and suffering on someone who loves Him. My own belief is that God would have not intentionally inflicted pain on Paul, as Paul had faith in Jesus.