[quote="CB_Catholic, post:9, topic:214907"]
I read a biography of St. Catherine of Sienna. She fasted severely and got to the point where she could no longer eat. She would vomit if she did. She did partake of the Eucharist. She was extremely wasted-looking and died an early death in her early thirties, probably of starvation. Yet she had a certain obsession with food, and would cook large and tasty meals for her large family. The author presented evidence that she was probably anorexic, and that this was not an unusual condition among religious women in her time period, as severe fasting was a popular spiritual discipline, but after a while some could no longer control it.
I borrowed the book from our church library, and no longer have it, so I can't give the name or the author, but the author was very sympathetic to Catherine and admired her, she was not dealing with the anorexia in a negative way, or trying to picture the Saint in a negative light. It was just the facts. St. Catherine probably starved herself to death from anorexia nervosa.
Also, being overweight in times past did not have the stigma it has today. In past times being overweight was often considered a sign of good health--you weren't starving to death, and also a sign of prosperity--only the prosperous could get enough to eat to get fat, usually. That's why in the old masterpiece paintings you see so many overweight women--that was the ideal and considered attractive. Ideal body size is often culturally conditioned.
Very interesting and thank you for sharing this. It's funny how times have changed about ideal body size.
Perhaps if you look at these list of books from wiki it will ring a bell?
Fasting Girls: The History of Anorexia Nervosa, Joan Jacobs Brumberg (Vintage; Subsequent edition, October 10, 2000)
Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women, Caroline Walker Bynum (University of California Press; New Ed. edition, January 7, 1988)
Holy Anorexia, Rudolph M. Bell (University Of Chicago Press, June 15, 1987)
From Fasting Saints to Anorexic Girls: The History of Self-Starvation, W. Vandereycken (NYU Press, July 1, 1994)