Saturday, March 18, 2006

Eating While Sleeping

A page from the diary of Saint Veronica Giuliani reproduced in Holy Anorexia

Tuesday the New York Times had an article about a Sleep-eating disorder among some users of Ambien. The report reminded me of the story of Saint Veronica (Orsola) Giuliani (1660-1727), about whom I first read in Holy Anorexia by Rudolph M. Bell.

Saint Veronica practiced various forms of extreme asceticism her whole life and at one point miraculously fasted for five years. During this period, the devil was occasionally seen to take Sister Veronica’s form late at night and pretty much raid the icebox, or whatever the seventeenth-century-icebox-equivalent was, at the Capuchin convent of Città di Castello.

I have often wondered what to make of this detail of Saint Veronica’s biography. It seems likeliest that she had some kind hybrid sleeping and eating disorder very similar to what many folks are suffering now. On the other hand, it may have been that this extraordinarily accomplished and ambitious leader was one of a number of sincere believers who feel that a certain amount of deception is excusable, and even necessary, for the sake of the greater truth.

And on the third hand, maybe it really was the devil.

This site has a painting of a seventeenth century Italian kitchen, which may somewhat resemble the scene of the controversy.

Bell, Rudolph M. Holy Anorexia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.

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Blogger zp said...

The New York Time Magazine had an article about this a few years ago too - maybe 5 years ago already. With some very graphic raw meat sort of photos. The disorders without the Ambien part. But this Saint Veronica angle is very interesting too.

4:15 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady said...

I had forgotten that article, but I remember it now that you mention it. I do recall being disturbed by the pictures.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Melissa CookingDiva said...

This is so interesting. Thanks for sharing! Hugs from Panama,

9:54 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Dear Chocolate Lady.

I finally got to give the lemon vodka to its rightful owner on friday - he had been working abroad and I hadnt seen him since christmas.

Lucky for us - he cracked it open right there and then and we got to sample a little taste.

Both the boys were blown away by it - they thought it was EXCELLENT - and i tell you to hear such praise of alcohol from them is no mean feat - they drink so much of it, to make one that stands out from the crowd is surely something.

SO, thanks again!


11:39 AM  
Blogger the chocolate lady said...

Welcome Melissa, and thanks very much.

Sam, It is great to hear from you and I am delighted that the vodka was a hit (and very impressed with your fortitude for hanging onto the bottle for so long)!
I am planning to visit CA in May.

1:09 PM  

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