Religion and Starvation


Saints and slimmers



The link between women’s sinfulness and food is made at the very start of the Bible, when Eve’s desire for the apple brings about the destruction of paradise. It reached a high point with medieval Christianity, when women literally fasted themselves to death in what subsequent scholars have labelled “holy anorexia“.

The best-known case is that of Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380, pictured). A mystic who saw visions of God, she would only eat bread and raw herbs and drink water – she starved to death at 33, the age when Jesus was crucified.


She is sometimes called the first anorexic, but Saint Margaret of Cortona (1247-1297) has an earlier claim. She worked ceaselessly among the needy of her home city and wrote: “I want to die of starvation to satiate the poor.”

Interested in this subject?

Suggested further reading:

Please check the religion and starvation link in this blog.

“Religious Fasting Woman, Holy anorexia”,M1

The Blood and the Body of Christ:


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