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Fasting Forty Days.

The “Reading (P.) Record” says:— ".iss Sadie Root’s attempted fast of 40 days and her absolute refusal to partake of any food or water, has attracted univerw' n Mention in this section of Pennsylvania, aini the inusl reputable physicians •)f this city pronounce it certainly one of r.he most extraordinary cases on record. Miss Root is about 28 years of age, and resides with her widowed mother at No. 314, South Sixth street, Reading. Her two sisters are fashionable mantuamakers, and Miss Xallie at times was employed at the establishment. Her father and mother were of sound mind and of excellent standing, and, until the present alarming state of affairs, nothing of moment ever occurred in their household. About one year ago, it was observed that the nature of Miss Root had undergone a considerable change. She had lost her buoyancy and much of her cheerfulness. Her step was not so elastic and her carriage not erect as it had been before she suddenly became very devout. She had at times been an attendant at church and Sunday school, but never manifested a more than ordinary interest in religions affairs. She was a member of the St. James’s Lutheran congregation, worshiping in one of the leading churches of Reading, and the Rev. Dr. Shmucker was her pastor. Miss Root became very ardent in church affairs, and took a deep interest in the Sunday school. She not only attended hea own church, but went wherever,she could hear pre&ching when her own church was closed. About the sth of last month the idea took possession of her to fast 40 days. She became deeply interested in the subject of fasting, and she read of Christ’s fast of 40 days in the wilderness with considerable interest. She then became possessed with the idea that to become more like Christ she too must fast for the same length of time. The first week after the 4th of July she ate nothing but a few berries and a cracker or two. The week following her mother informed the, family physician that Miss Sallie had eaten absolutely nothing and that she had not swallowed a drop of water. Mrs. Root and her other daughters became alarmed, and endeavored to pursuade Sallie to cease her imitation “ of the fast of our blessed Lord. ” She paid no heed whatever to their protests. Throughout all the heated term they positively aver that she drank no water at all. The bright sparkle left her eyes, and the roses faded from her cheeks. She became pale and thin, and she remained indoors entirely. Her ablutions were very frequent. As many as a dozen basins of water would be used by her in simply bathing her hands. First she would fill a basin with pure water and wash her hands ; and then she would empty the basin and fill it again and wash her hands as before. This she continued as often as 10 or 12 times in succession. It was her belief that she must do this to be clean and pure. Her bathing of the body was also frequent. On the 17th .of July her condition became alarming. Her tongue was heavily coated, her skin parched and dry, and her flesh fast wasting away. Dr. Shmucker, the family physician, was called in for the first time, when Miss Root became very indignant, and said she had no need for his services. She was not confined to her room, but walked slowly about the lower part of the house. She turned her back upon the doctor and requested him to leave, as her case was not of a character that required worldly medicine. Despite a great deal of entreaty she still refused to take food. She was then told that food would have to be forced into her stomach if she did not take it in a natural manner. Her breath was becoming sickening, and the membranous lining of her stomach was becoming inflamed. On July 18 she ate a cracker, in order to avert having food ejected. The very small quantity of food taken was just sufficient to keep her from actual starvation. Dr. Shmucker ceased paying visits because he thought nothing was to be accomplished. Dr. Martin Luther, one of the leading physicians of the town, was then called in. He wa* told that Miss Root was eating nothing at all. She was weak, pale, emaciated, and verging on to actual starvation. She positively refused to eat or drink anything. Her case was assuming an alarming phase. She was known to have been on her knees five hours at a time reading her Bible and praying. Her devotional exercises were almost constant. Nearly all her strength was being consumed by this. Dr. Luther immediately ordered this to be stopped. Miss Root was dying slowly for the want of nourishment. She refused to obey Dr. Luther’s order to eat or drink, saying that eating and drinking was not necessary. The physician reasoned with her, and demonstrated the folly of her attempted 40 days fast, and told her explicitly that she was slowly killing herself ; but she paid no heed to him. An attendant was then summoned to hold her hands, and a spoon was, forced between her teeth, but Miss Root refused to swallow the food. A tube was then inserted in her nostril, and a small quantity of gruel was forced into her stomach. It was necessary to hold her hands during this operation. Finally Miss Root told Dr. Luther she would make no resistance to him, and that he need not hold her hands down any more Her doctor entreated her to take the food in the regular manner, but she firmly refused. A small quantity of gruel and milk was again injected through the nostril into the gullet and thence into the stomach. Miss Root made no resistance, but refused to eat or drink in a natural way. Only small quantities of food are given to her, and her life is being prolonged by injecting the fluid matter through her nostrils. jShe is quite obstinate, despite her weakness, and it is impossible to conjecture how long her life can be prolonged.

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 25, 22 November 1879

Word Count

Fasting Forty Days. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 25, 22 November 1879