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archy with the body. The traditional association of men with reason/spirit/mind many male theologians in the history of Christianity, was nevertheless a very common theme in the mediaeval Church. In order to express their spirituality, mediaeval women aescetics had to come to terms with this distinction in one way or another. Perhaps, the most common mode of doing so was through self-denial of food and increased theological and ritual engagement with the Eucharist. Through aescetic food practices, mediaeval religious women could attain some measure of control over their lives and ego boundaries on a historical, tices were less to do with control than discipline, limiting the intake of worldly food in order to better digest the spiritual food encapsulated in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Comparisons between modern anorexia and aescetic practices, based on behavioural parallels, problematically ignore their differing to subjugate the body through the self-as-mind, mediaeval aescetics operated within a worldview that professed a more holistic view of the self that inof all that they were for the ultimate spiritual purpose of union with God. It was at once a recognition of patriarchal associations of women as bodies, and a subversion of the negative implications thereof. Thus, through their food tological purposes, subverting the theological and social categories imposed upon them by the mediaeval Roman Catholic hierarchy. her spine was stuck to her stomach and the bones of her back showed through 1

see these sorts of behaviours as perverse, anorexic, or simply bewildering, this was not the only medieval perception of these mystics. For instance, Mary’s ha-

The fact that this type of extreme renunciation was seen in such a positive light is an indication of a shift in mediaeval piety in general, and female piety in

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Canons IX:2  

Personal Study, Personal Religion McGill University Undergraduate Journal of Religious Studies

Canons IX:2  

Personal Study, Personal Religion McGill University Undergraduate Journal of Religious Studies

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