Lenten season is always a time of sober reflection combined with prayers and supplications for Christians the world over.
However, in the remote village of Ogbodu Enugu-Ezike, Igbo Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, a mysterious incident and rare phenomenon known as stigmata is currently happening for quite some time now.
A Catholic Nun, Reverend Sister Martina Offorka and member of the Religious Order of Virgins, bleeds mysteriously not only on the feet and palms––locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ––but also in her eyes.
Not only is she afflicted with the “marks of Jesus,” Sister Martina Offorka’s passion is also accompanied by the mysterious appearance of the Host––the Communion bread––in her mouth.
WITHIN NIGERIA investigations indicate that Offorka, a native of Ifite in Anambra State, has been stigmatic for more than a decade, and her bleeding usually occurs in the Lenten period.
Our reporter gathered that Lenten period is always a special season for the people of the area, due largely to the mysterious incident.
“Since I started hearing about the sister, I have been hearing about her bleeding mysteriously during Lent,” an eyewitness, Mr. Kelvin Uja asserts.
A visit to Rev. Sister Martina Offorka at Ogbodu
Our reporter determined to get to the root of the mysterious happening,paid a visit to The Divine Wound Motherless Babies Home in Ogbodu Enugu- Ezike, where the Reverend sister is running a nursery/primary school. She also runs a prayer group devoted to praying for priests and the religious. Her bleeding reportedly happens during the group’s prayer service and also during Holy Mass.
However, our reporter gathered that seeing Rev. Sister Martina Offorkansi one-on-one is as good as seeing President Joe Biden of United States of America.
He was given tag number 665 even though he went as early as 9am.
The sober, five-foot, dark skinned Sister barely has time for herself let alone time to talk to a news reporter. She is perpetually in a prayer mood and all efforts to see her that evening proved abortive.
However, our reporter traced the leader of the prayer group, Evangelist Elisha Ayogu, to his house in Amaobe village, Ibagwa- Aka community, Igbo Eze South Local Government Area.
Ayogu, leader of the prayer group since the last two years, narrated his experience as “Passion,” he says.
According to him, I have known Sister Martina Offorka for some years. Since I’ve known her, she has been experiencing this Passion. I came to know her well when I finished my school of Evangelism at Issieluku in Edo State. After my graduation, I went for prayer in her prayer group and continued attending prayers with them, until the group had a change of leadership and I was made their leader. Since then, I have been coordinating the activities of the group.”
Asked about the timings of the Passion, Evangelist Ayogu explained that, “It happens every Tuesday and Thursday during Lent. That of last year, which was my first experience of being physically present, took us by surprise. We were singing and praying when suddenly she handed over the microphone to me. She rushed into her room and shouted, writhing in pain. Blood started gushing out of her feet, eyes and palms. I rushed to clean the blood from her body but was prevented by other older members of the group on the grounds that it is not everybody that cleans the blood.
“According to them, the blood is not that of a human being or Sister Martina. But it is the blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
On the issue of blood loss, the leader of the group claims he cannot estimate the quantity of juice of life that seeps out of her during the painful experience.
“I cannot explain how much blood she loses during this painful experience. All I know is [during the Passion] Sister Offorka proclaims spiritual revelations that border mainly on repentance. She usually tells people that doubt the reality of the blood to test it clinically. What surprises me is that when you sniff the blood, it scents like the altar wine. Another mysterious thing about the Passion of Sister Martina is that she does not take blood transfusion thereafter to make up for the lost blood, neither does she take any medication for the pains she undergoes.”
Of the Eucharistic Host (Holy Communion wafer) in her mouth during the Passion, Evangelist Ayogu explains: “The Holy Communion comes into her mouth on its own. Some people thought that it was the Holy Communion that was given to her during Holy Mass before the Passion that is inside her mouth; but, I tell you, it is not. For instance, during last year’s Lenten period, on a Wednesday, there was no priest to celebrate Holy Mass for us. The priests invited couldn’t make it and when we went to the parish priest that night, he told us he couldn’t make it that night but would come in the morning by six o’clock for the Holy Mass. By midnight, Sister Martina started experiencing her Passion. By 5 am, when I went to see her in her room, before the arrival of the parish priest, I heard her saying ‘Amen’ like we usually say when the Holy Communion is being given to us.
“Lo and behold, I saw the Host in her mouth, even though no priest was inside the room with her. In fact, she was the only one inside her room that early morning. Usually, a priest removes the Host from her mouth, especially the ones I have witnessed. Last year, after the Passion, the priest who removed the Holy Communion from her mouth told us that it looked exactly like the one we receive and that everything written on the one we receive is also written on that one too.”
Evangelist Ayogu refrains from commenting on what happens to the sacramental wafer. Is it kept inside the tabernacle? Is it later given back to the nun? Is it shared among the communicants? Does the priest receive it? To these critical questions, the leader of the prayer group declined to answer.
Miracle seekers besiege mysterious Nun
With these mysterious happenings, the prayer group has continued to grow in leaps and bounds, so much so that it now hosts thousands of Catholic faithful and Christians of other denominations who appear every week to ask for God’s favour through prayers.
Asked if the nun has at any time told him why she has been having the experience, Evangelist Ayogu answers in the negative. He has tried to find out through prayer the authenticity of the Passion, and the spiritual messages he has gotten so far confirmed to him that Sister Martina is a true child of God, he said.
Nsukka Catholic Diocese reacts
However, reacting to the development the immediate past administrator, Nsukka Catholic Diocese, Very Rev. Fr. Eugene Odo told WITHIN NIGERIA that, the church is aware of the incident. “We have heard about the case of Sister Martina Offorka. The church is still watching and praying about the claim.
“One thing about the Stigmata is that it is not the claim that makes one stigmatic. Some who had such experience were declared stigmatic years after their death. Even Jesus Christ, Our Saviour, people started recognizing him after his resurrection. We are looking at a good life, not miracles; a miracle is not an attestation to the good life of the person.”
While confirming the validity of such experience in Catholicism, he explained that it as a replay of the suffering of Jesus Christ on individuals, especially during Lent. He gave examples of Catholic faithful who have physically manifested the Stigmata the likes of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina and, more famously, St. Frances of Assisi.