A pastor in Mozambique has died after trying to fast for 40 days, emulating what Christ is said to have done in the Bible.
Francisco Barajah, founder of the Santa Trindade Evangelical Church, died at a hospital in the city of Beira, where he was evacuated in critical condition.
After 25 days without food or water, he had lost weight to the point where he could not stand up. He was aged 39.
He had been taken to hospital at the insistence of relatives and followers.
Mr Barajah was diagnosed with acute anaemia and failure of his digestive organs. He was rehydrated with serums and an attempt was made to introduce liquid foods, but it was too late and and he died on Wednesday.
The pastor was also a French teacher in the town of Messica in the central province of Manica, bordering Zimbabwe.
Members of the Santa Trindade Church said it was common for the pastor and his followers to fast, but not for that long.
His brother Marques Manuel Barajah said the pastor had fasted, but he challenged the medical diagnosis about his death. “The truth is that my brother suffered from low blood pressure,” he said.
It is not the first report of such a deadly attempt to imitate Christ’s 40-day fast in the desert as described in the Gospel of Matthew.
In 2015, a Zimbabwean man died after 30 days, local media said. In 2006, a British coroner found that a woman died half-way through a similar fast in London.