Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

Maria Domenica Lazzari - Patron Saint of Anorexic Self-Harmers (Not Really)

Posted in Curiosa & Forteana, Historia & Memoria, Illustration, Medicine / Anatomy by Suzanne on April 26th, 2011 | BBC Wikipedia


Maria Domenica Lazzari by L. Giuditti after L.G. de Ségur, watercolour, 1846, Wellcome Library - click to enlarge

I SWEAR I was going to post this in time for Good Friday, but then, the internet's Madame Morbid beat me to it and I thought PFFFFFFT... FINE.

But you know me, and I just can't let it be and have to compulsively share great imagery and I don't think anyone could get tired of stigmatics.

Particularly stigmatics as hardcore as Maria Domenica Lazzari a.k.a. L'Addolorata who is depicted above (.. and obviously in the detail below, duh!) - brought to my attention by the amazing Wellcome Library blog. Make sure to click on the images to view them bigger.

There is something about her vacant stare that reminds me of the creepy photos of Anneliese Michel's exorcisms.

Then there's the dried blood that automatically brings to mind the Spot Portraits of the great Timothy Cummings, the Utrechtse Krop pictures D R Tenge posted recently or Lilliputrid's collection of Skin Diseases - a subject the Wellcome Collection itself devoted a recent exhibition to (that left me rather unimpressed).


Maria Domenica Lazzari (detail) by L. Giuditti after L.G. de Ségur, watercolour, 1846, Wellcome Library - click to enlarge

The Wellcome Library blog quotes from three letters by T.W. Allies who visited L'Addolorata in the summer of 1847 - she died around Easter the following year, aged 33...

"We intend to go on towards Venice on Tuesday; we think of stopping at Verona, and going north into the Tyrol, to see the Addolorata, I do no not know if you have heard of her. She has now been many years subsisting almost without nourishment, having on her hands, feet, and side the marks of our Saviour's wounds, and on her head a series of punctures representing the Crown of Thorns. Blood drops from all of these on Friday. I spoke with an eye-witness of this at Paris. The thing seems marvellous enough to go a hundred miles out of one's way to see it. [...]

[...] Three weeks afterwards her family found her in the morning with a handkerchief covering her face, in a state of great delight, a sort of trance; on removing the handkerchief, letters were found on it marked in blood, and Domenica's brow had a complete impression of the Crown of Thorns, in a line of small punctures, about a quarter of an inch apart, from which the blood was flowing freshly. They asked her who had torn her so (chi l'aveva così pettinata?) she replied, " A very fair lady had come in the night and adorned her. [...]

[...] Her breast heaved with a sort of convulsion, and her teeth chattered. On the outside of both hands, as they lie clasped together, in a line with the second finger, about an inch from the knuckle, is a hard scar, of dark-colour, rising above the flesh, half an inch in length, by about three-eighths of an inch in width; round these the skin slightly reddened, but quite free from blood. From the position of the hands it is not possible to see well inside, but stooping down on the right of her bed I could almost see an incision answering to the outward one, and apparently deeper. I leant over her head, within a foot of the Corona on the forehead, and closely observed the wounds. She looked at us very fixedly, but hardly spoke."

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