Ascetic Diet and Holy Anorexia

I am currently in the process of writing a book on ascetic practice.  Along the path of research I come across some interesting information,  which I share with all of you.  Among the topics that interest me today are ascetic diets, or the foodstuffs of the soul.   In so many ways ascetic diet is such an ironic term, as the body and the flesh are such worldly elements in the realm of a meditative soul, however the soul is still intact with the body, and therefore is to some degree attached to it.

Among the interesting diets that I have come across in my research is how many of monks who tried desperately to practice asceticism came into the conflict of desire and will.  Very often monks who had tackled the physical aspect of ascetic life, found that supressing appetite to be one of the most horrible experiences.   Some monks developed severe eating disorders by trying to starve themselves.   For example, the very famous cases of Theresa of Avila, who used to an olive twig to induce vomiting, or Saint Catherine, who both suffered of what is now known as “holy anorexia.”


~ by alexmalina on April 8, 2009.

2 Responses to “Ascetic Diet and Holy Anorexia”

  1. There’s loads of this, and of course eating was a much more talking about subject than sex amongst early Christian ascetics. My fave quirky eater is Symeon the Holy fool, who ate superhuman quantities of beans…

  2. Hi,

    I’d like to ask you some questions about asceticism if you have time please email me at

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