CASES OF FASTING
Nowadays, when there is a great deal of popular interest in the subject of fasting, it is interesting to recall some of the celebrated cases of fasting in Europe in the Middle Ages. The New York Times recounts the following story of Eve Fliegen, "miraculous maid of Meurs."
"The smell of a rose was, according to some biographers, her only sustenance for three years. Indeed, it is even insisted that she lived for fourteen years without ordinary food of mortals—and that, if you please, in the sixteenth century, when gourmands were wont to roast a whole ox at one time. A contemporary of hers gives us the following piece of testimony:
"'Shee utterly refused the tast either of meate or drinke, and in that manner hath her body been preserved ever since the yeare of our Lord 1597 to this present year 1611. This strange wonder continuing thus long, drew not only many people to see her, but many tryals to be put upon her, amongst which, this was one. In the yeare 1599 the Noble Countesse of Meurs with her waiting Gentlewomen, having brought this Eve Fliegen into a garden with much importunity to have her eate somewhat, so prevailed that shee plucked a cherry and tasted it, and had no sooner eaten it downe but that the Lady with her servants were in feare shee would there presently have dyed, shee fell into so sodaine and violent passion of an extreme sickness.'
"The origin of the jail fast, made popular by suffragists not so many years ago, can perhaps be traced to Cecily de Rygeway, who lived in Nottingham in the reign of Edward III and was indicted for the murder of her husband. She is said to have 'remained alive for forty days in a narrow prison without food or drink by a miracle; the King has pardoned her the execution of her judgment, willing that she be delivered out of prison and no further impeached'—thus runs a chronicle."
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