Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Holy Anorexia

Lyndal Roper, Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet (New York: Random House, 2017), p. 52:
On the way back, the two Augustinians stopped at Augsburg, where, Luther recalled, he was taken to meet the holy Anna 'Laminit', or 'leave me not'. The daughter of simple craftspeople, she was believed to live miraculously without eating. This kind of religiosity — or what modern writers have termed 'holy anorexia' — was a powerful streak in late medieval devotion, encouraged by an extreme asceticism that regarded bodily appetites as inimical to religious perfection. Female saints in particular might fast to extremes and undergo mystical experiences. In a church which was deeply distrustful of women, asceticism offered them an avenue of expression and authority. Laminit reported visions of St Anna, her name saint and the saint to whom we know Luther himself was attached. Not only did she go without food, she was famed as passing neither water nor stools.
Id., p. 53:
She was unmasked soon after by the duchess of Bavaria, who discovered her secret stash of luxury food, such as pepper-cakes and pears; it turned out that she emptied her stools out of the window.


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