Italian saint Padre Pio reportedly used carbolic acid on his hands, feet and sides to "self-inflict" the wounds Christ endured during the crucifixion, according to a book by professor Sergio Luzzatto.
In his award-winning account dubbed Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age, the historian describes correspondence between Padre Pio and his pharmacist that suggest the saint used acid to mimic stigmata wounds, according to The Sun.
Padre Pio is a popular saint among Italians, and a survey conducted around 2007 revealed "more people prayed to him than to Jesus or the Virgin Mary," according to The Telegraph. In his book, Luzzatto suggests the Vatican succumbed to public pressure to canonize the popular priest.
In an earlier book, The Other Christ: Padre Pio and 19th Century Italy, Luzzatto examined the same documents found the Vatican archive, but his claims were dismissed in 2007 by the Catholic Anti-Defamation League, according to The Telegragh.
Born Francesco Forgione, Padre Pio was canonized as a saint by Pope John Paul II in 2002, but not before two previous popes had debated the validity of Padre Pio's wounds, The Montreal Gazette reported.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, Francis of Assisi is believed to have endured the first documented stigmata wounds in 1224 in Italy. Since then, hundreds of stigmata cases have been reported, though the authenticity of the phenomena continue to be debated among scholars and researchers.