Frankie Paige (Arquette), a young woman in Pittsburgh, is stricken with what appears to be a Stigmata. Father Kiernan (Byrne), a priest who specializes in authentication of miracles, comes to meet her and examine her wounds.
Provides examples of:
- Animal Motifs: Doves.
- Artistic License ReligionRoger Ebert: "Stigmata" does not know, or care, about the theology involved, and thus becomes peculiarly heretical by confusing the effects of being possessed by Jesus and by Beelzebub.
- It also features a desperate conspiracy by the Catholic Church to cover up the existence of the newly-rediscovered Gospel of Thomas, which would apparently destroy the entire institution of religion if discovered. However, it was actually discovered in 1945, and published (and translated) shortly after with no opposition whatsoever.
- Award-Bait Song: Identify, written by Mike Garson and The Smashing Pumpkins's vocalist Billy Corgan (who also composed the score alongside Mike), and sung by Natalie Imbruglia.
- Black Best Friend: Donna Chadway
- Christianity Is Catholic
- Deadly Bath: Frankie steps into her Candlelit Bath to relax, only to be suddenly struck with a vision of the last tortured moments of the Messiah, complete with wounds opening in her wrists.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Frankie's boyfriend Stephen mainly exists to mention that she is heterosexual. Frankie and Stephen have a sex scene early in the film, and after that he is barely mentioned. Frankie's best friend Donna, meanwhile, has a lot more scenes with Frankie, is shown to care about her well-being, and even shares Frankie's bed after bringing her back from the hospital. But Frankie has a boyfriend, SO THEY'RE NOT LESBIANS, RIGHT?
- Hollywood Atheist: Frankie is an avowed atheist (and her "sinful" life is well displayed for the audience). Which makes her manifestation of the stigmata baffling to Father Kiernan, who tells Frankie that only deeply religious people show stigmata.
- Hollywood Exorcism: Cardinal Houseman tries to exorcise the priest's soul from Frankie. When that doesn't work, he tries to kill her to silence him.
- Hot for Preacher: Kiernan is propositioned by several priests on his way to work. They are not phased at all when he shows them his priestly collar, offering him, "The Vatican discount!", heavily implying that he would not be the first priest that they'd serviced.
- Impaled Palm: Frankie's wounds are through her wrists, and she gleefully notes that they should be through her palms if she has stigmata. However, Father Kiernan notes that historic crucifixions were done through the wrist.
- Pietà Plagiarism: Kiernan carries Frankie out of the nunnery this way.
- Religious Horror
- Sexy Priest: Kiernan.
- Tears of Blood: The statue Father Kiernan investigates began crying human blood at the death of the church's beloved priest.
- Frankie later cries the same tears.