The author believes that like the modern day anorexic, the medieval fasting female saint was similar. He believes that in their pursuit of self starvation they were struggling for liberation from a patriarchal family and society.
The book looks at the lives of many of these saints including Catherine of Siena, Veronica Giuliani, and Margaret of Cortona. For me this was the most interesting part of the book and especially their levels of self abuse in order to obtain penance such as licking the floor with their tongue in the shape of a crucifix. The most extreme case was one saint who licked the entire floor and walls of her convent cell clean – even eating the cobwebs.
Many of these saints would also be fixated with sexual fantasies of Jesus as they battled to control their earthly natural desires.