Croatian priest marked with 'stigmata' also said to bilocate
A young Croatian priest who allegedly bleeds from his wrists, feet, side, and forehead -- where a mystical "wound" forms a perfect cross -- has been barraged by requests for retreats and appearances as TV and newspaper reports circulate that he not only bears stigmata but possesses the gifts of healing, prophecy, and bilocation.
As with all new mysticism, this must be received carefully. In recent years, claims of mysticism have been rife with deception. But the priest, Father Zlatko Sudac from Vrbnik on the Adriatic island of Krk, is under the guidance of a bishop and has undergone an initial examination at the Gemelli Clinic in Rome, according to one of his interpreters, Ann Vucic of Chicago.
Vucic says Father Sudac, 30, had been taken to the famous apparition site of Medjugorje in neighboring Bosnia-Hercegovina as a child and then two other times before onset of the head wound. He had served in the Yugoslavian military -- where, after a bout of religious skepticism, he started prayer groups -- and his conversion is traced to attendance of a seminar given by a well-known charismatic priest, Emilio Tardiff, in Slovenia. At the time Father Sudac had a girlfriend and was ready for marriage but returned from the seminar with a call to the priesthood, according to his translator. She says he began speaking and singing in "tongues," and was astonished one day to learned that a mysterious song which had come to him and that he had been singing in tongues was also in the movie Schindler's List -- a Semitic song about the heavenly homeland, the "golden Jerusalem," that Jews had sung on the way to German gas chambers.
It was the onset of a mystical torrent. On June 29, 1998, Sudac was ordained as a diocesan priest. The cross on his forehead appeared a year later, the Friday after the May 1999 beatification of the famous Italian mystic Padre Pio -- who likewise bore the stigmata. It began at a friend's home on a Friday. According to Vucic an evaluation at Gemelli turned up inexplicable evidence that the edge of the stigmata on his forehead slices through cells without killing them -- something unknown to medical experts, who she says explained that an penetration of a cell is usually deadly to that cell. The other wounds materialized on the feast of St. Francis -- the first known stigmatist -- while Father Sudac was studying at a convent in Italy, where he found the wounds after dozing off in a chapel.
"That day he had been in such a state that he couldn't find the chapel," relates Vucic. "He opened every door and couldn't find it. Finally he found it, opened the tabernacle, took the monstrance in his hands, and dozed off, and when he woke up he was bloody."
The hand wounds are in the wrists (where many believe Christ's wounds were actually located), and the cross on his forehead brings to mind a similarly positioned mark on the Shroud of Turin. Father Sudac uses ace bandages to hide the wounds, except on Fridays, when blood from the forehead soaks the bandage, which his superiors allow him to remove, according to the translator.
Vucic says Father Zlatko is currently assigned to Mali Losinj in the northern Adriatic and is also gifted with "illumination," the reading of souls, the odor of sanctity, and bilocation -- where a mystic suddenly appears somewhere far away from where he or she is actually physically located. This gift was also attributed to Padre Pio.
"My father died on February 2," recounts Vucic of an experience she herself had recently. "Father Sudac came to my home several times to meet with my father. The day before my father died he and I were in New York at a seminar and had to be in New York that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
"Well, that Friday my father died, and so I came home Sunday morning for the wake and Father Sudac flew home Sunday night. His flight came into Midway Airport at 8 p.m. Another priest, Father Joe Grbes, went to pick him up and bring him back to a rectory.
"But that night Father Sudac was at the wake. I did not see him but several members of my family did see him. When we found out that some people had seen him at the wake, I called him to ask if he was actually there -- because physically there was no way he could be there. He had been in New York and there was a witness who was with him on the airplane, somebody who flew with him to Chicago, and Father Joe picked him up, but several members of my family saw him actually come up to me [at the wake] and talk to me and come up to some of my family members to talk to us. And when I asked, he confirmed it and told me details he could not have known otherwise -- including what the casket looked like, what my father was wearing, what the room looked like, that there were pictures all over and what was in the pictures. When this happened he was on the plane."
Vucic says that media coverage of his phenomena, including reports on television in Croatia, have led to many seeking him out. "He gets 200 phone calls a day," says Vucic. "He can't step out without being mobbed. Thousands are trying to get to Mali to see him. They're coming from all sides."
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