Catholic Dictionary




The phenomenon of miraculously surviving without nourishment for many years. It is commonly associated with those bearing the stigmata who have lived a long time without taking food other than Holy Communion. Thus Angela of Foligno remained twelve years without any nourishment, Catherine of Siena for about eight years, Elisabeth of Reute over fifteen years, Lidwina for twenty-eight years, and Catherina Racconigi for ten years. Among the conditions looked for by the Church in verifying the phenomenon as supernatural is strict surveillance of the person at all times for a notable period, and by numerous witnesses to detect any possible fraud. The examiners must determine whether the abstinence is absolute, extending to drink as well as food, whether it is broken, and whether the individual continues to attend to customary occupations.