anorexia, spiritual rituals, physical deprivation
This body of mine remains without any food, without even a drop of water: in such sweet physical tortures as I never at any time endured; insomuch that my life hangs by a thread.” At only thirty three years old Saint Catherine of Siena lay in an almost constant state of hallucination, unable to stand, and on the verge of death. Saint Catherine lived the majority of her life in a near constant state of starvation as a form of suffering for religious worship, but four months before her death, she expressed she had lost the ability to take water or swallow and that her eventual death or continued life was in the hands of God. She writes, “it seems to me that this time I am to confirm them with a new martyrdom in the sweetness of my soul . . . He will put so an end to my miseries and to my crucified desires. Or He may employ His usual ways to strengthen my body.” Shortly after, Saint Catherine experienced a dehydration-induced stroke where she lost the ability to walk and spent the next week slowly dying of a lifetime of malnutrition and dehydration.
"Anorexic Behaviors and Spirituality in Medieval Holy Women,"
AWE (A Woman’s Experience): Vol. 9, Article 51.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/awe/vol9/iss1/51