Giovanni di Paolo, St Catherine of Siena, 1475.
When I was a teenager I was really weird about food to say the least. I really got off on the idea that St. Catherine didn’t eat (my name is Kathryn).
Catherine is alleged to have suffered from anorexia mirabilis, due to her extreme fasting and disgorging of the meals she ate.
St Catherine died in Rome, on 29 April 1380, at the age of thirty-three, having suffered a stroke eight days earlier. Jesus is also commonly thought to have died at the same age, and Catherine’s heroine Mary Magdalene is said to have fasted for thirty-three years.
Over the years Catherine had eaten less and less, claiming that she found no nourishment in earthly food. Instead she received the Holy Communion virtually on a daily basis. This extreme fasting appeared unhealthy in the eyes of the clergy and her own sisterhood, and her confessor, Blessed Raymond, ordered her to eat properly. But Catherine claimed that she was unable to, describing her inability to eat as an infermità (illness). She would disgorge what she swallowed, and suffered severe stomach pains, which she bore with patience as another penance.
tags: St. Catherine. art. 1400s. Giovanni di Paolo. food. personal.