Emaciated Saints


Is it really true that several different saints in history underwent fasting to the point of becoming emaciated? The big three that come to mind are St John Chrysostom, St Francis of Assisi, and St Kateri Tekakwitha, though there are others. St Chrysostom and St Tekakwitha both died fairly early deaths.

This is kind of a moral problem for me. Should we view this behavior in them as morally exemplary, when - by the same token - some people have a disorder (anorexia) that leads to the same end, and it is something that is treated in clinics? Did these saints “go too far” beyond what prudence would dictate?


Fasting is not evil in itself, the difference is in the intention and the effect. The intention of Catholics in fasting is to draw closer to God but the intention of anorexics is to lose weight to appear more attractive or to gain some perverse satisfaction. The effect of regular fasting for Catholics could be that they have poor health (possibly leading to early death) but the good spiritual effects justify this; The effect of anorexics fasting is that they have poor health (possibly leading to early death) and yet do not receive spiritual benefits, so their actions are sinful. Of course, anorexia is a problem of the mind and they may not be fully responsible for their actions.


I don’t know if it is true or not, but I don’t think we are required to approve of a person’s every action, just because they are a saint. Pretty much every person make some wrong turns on their spiritual journey, the point is, the saints reached heaven at the end.


Jesus fasted for forty days,which is enough to kill some people, so this is no problem.


These saints had reached an incredible level of holiness and were under spiritual direction. They were like superheroes of sanctity–they did things which the Church warns us not to try at home…


They also lived saintly lives.


Yes, but not all of their life was always lived saintly. St.Ignatius of Loyola was no saint, until he got hit with a canon ball. And then, it still took a while! :wink:


St. Ignatius of Loyola was said to have become a saint after he decided he wanted to be one.

The same for St. Augustine of Hippo after he discovered it was the Christian faith that had all the answers.

And the same for St. Francis who before visited drinking places where haughty women frequented them.

St. Faustina is reported to have found living her Christian faith difficult until she entered a convent - though I don’t think she would have been particularly sinful beforehand, when compared with our low standards.

St. Paul is another example and no doubt the same applies to the apostles.

Most renowned holy women were probably always holier than what is the norm.

We are sinners and so need to look to the saints for encouragement because they lived as saints from the time they were called.


This is so true that we are sinners and the saints are great role models for us.

I love reading about St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy Novena that Jesus revealed to her.


Truly a blessing. On this forum (I think) I was reminded about the words of our Lord to St. Faustina, speaking about hardened sinners:

‘“Let the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy.” (Diary, 1146)’

Especially holy is this Divine Mercy Chaplet prayed between the hours of 3pm and 4pm. And also for this holy hour, some meditation on the Agony - spiritual reasons given here: mt-of-olives.blogspot.co.uk/ …also brought to my attention again by a poster on this forum.

I get the impression that St. Faustina was a very joyful person. And I love the way she asked a saint in a vision visiting her at night if she was to become a saint. Reminds me a little of St. Therese asking if the world would come to love her. Sweetness of Heaven delights.



Do you have her diary?




And you mean to say that I spent all that money on buying her diary?! :thumbsup: It is great that this is available for people to read in PDF. :thumbsup:


You can also convert it to a kindle file, if you’re a fan of the kindle app. :slight_smile:


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