Saint of the Day, May 15th: Saint Dymphna

Saint Dymphna

St. Dymphna
St. Dymphna
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Patron of those suffering for nervous and mental afflictions

Dymphna was fourteen when her mother died. Damon is said to have been afflicted with a mental illness, brought on by his grief. He sent messengers throughout his town and other lands to find some woman of noble birth, resembling his wife, who would be willing to marry him. When none could be found, his evil advisers told him to marry his own daughter. Dymphna fled from her castle together with St. Gerebran, herconfessor and two other friends. Damon found them in Belgium. He gave orders that the priest’s head be cut off. Then Damon tried to persuade his daughter to return toIreland with him. When she refused, he drew his sword and struck off her head. She was then only fifteen years of age. Dymphna received the crown of martyrdom in defense of her purity about the year 620. She is the patron of those suffering from nervous and mental afflictions. Many miracles have taken place at her shrine, built on the spot where she was buried in Gheel, Belgium.
Prayer: Hear us, O God, Our Saviour, as we honor St. Dymphna, patron of those afflicted with mental and emotional illness. Help us to be inspired by her example and comforted by her merciful help. Amen.

from Wikipedia
Saint Dymphna (also: DympnaDimpna) was the daughter of a pagan Irish king and his Christian wife in the 7th century AD. She was murdered by her father. The story of St. Dymphna was first recorded in the thirteenth century by a canon of the Church of St. Aubert at Cambrai, commissioned by the Bishop of Cambrai, Guy I (1238–1247 AD). The author expressly states that his writings were based upon a longstanding oral tradition and a persuasive history of inexplicable and miraculous healings of the mentally ill.[1]

Life and death [edit]

Dymphna was born in Ireland during the 7th century. Dymphna’s father Damon, a petty king of Oriel, was pagan, but her mother was a devout Christian. When Dymphna was 14 years old, her mother died. Damon had loved his wife deeply, and in the aftermath of her death his mental health sharply deteriorated. When at length he decided to remarry, Damon sought to find a woman who resembled his deceased wife. When no such woman could be found, Damon began to desire his daughter, because of the strong resemblance she bore to her mother. When Dymphna learned of her father’s intentions she fled his court along with her confessor Father Gerebernus and two trusted servants. Together they sailed towards the continent, eventually landing in Belgium, where they took refuge in the town of Gheel.
One tradition states that once settled in Gheel, St. Dymphna built a hospice for the poor and sick of the region. However, Ironically, was through the use of her wealth that her father would eventually ascertain her whereabouts, as some of the coins used enabled her father to trace them to Belgium.[2]Damon sent his agents to pursue his daughter and her companions. When their hiding place was discovered, Damon traveled to Gheel to recover his daughter. Damon ordered his soldiers to kill Father Gerebernus and tried to force Dymphna to return with him to Ireland, but she resisted. Furious, Damon drew his sword and struck off his daughter’s head. She was 15 years old when she died.[3] After Dymphna and Gerebernus were martyred, the residents of Gheel buried them in a nearby cave. Years later, they decided to move the remains to a more suitable location. According to tradition, when workmen entered the cave to retrieve the two bodies they found that the bones of Dymphna and Gerebernus had been miraculously interred in two stone sarcophagi,[4] one of which bore a red tile with the inscription “DYMPHNA.”

Medieval traditions [edit]

The historical basis for this story is uncertain. There are variations in the legend and it has counterparts in the folktales of many European countries, such as The King Who Wished to Marry His Daughter andDonkeyskin. The events of Saint Dymphna’s life may have become entwined with these myths in the centuries after her death when her story was told orally.

Veneration [edit]

St-Dymphna Church, Geel, Belgium
The remains of Saint Dymphna were later put into a silverreliquary and placed in the Gheel church named in her honor. The remains of Saint Gerebernus were moved to Xanten,Germany.[5] During the late 15th century the original St. Dymphna’s Church in Gheel burned, and necessity obliged the erection of the magnificent “Church of St. Dymphna,” which was consecrated in 1532 and now still stands on the site where her body was first buried.[2]
A phenomenon is said to have occurred immediately after the finding of the tombs. A number of people with epilepsy, mental illnesses and persons under evil influences who had visited at the tomb of Dymphna were cured. Ever since that time, she has been invoked on behalf of such people.[2]
St. Dymphna’s feast day is May 15.[6]

Patronage [edit]

St. Dymphna is the patron saint of the nervous, emotionally disturbed, and mentally ill.[6]

Legacy [edit]

The National Shrine of St. Dymphna is located in Massillon, Ohio.[4] St. Dymphna’s Special School is located in Ballina County Mayo and operates under the patronage of Western Care Association. [7] St. Dymphna’s Pub is located on St. Mark’s Place, New York City.[8]

See also [edit]

  • List of Catholic saints

References [edit]

  1. ^ Saint Dymphna: Wonderworker of Gheel, May 15th. Saints Mary and Martha Orthodox Monastery, Wagener, S.C., Newsletter, January 2006. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  2. a b c “St Dymphna”, Archdiocese of Atlanta
  3. ^ Benedictine Convent Sisters, Clyde, Missouri, “Tabernacle and Purgatory” May 1946
  4. a b National Shrine of St. Dymphna
  5. ^ Kirsch, J.P. (1909). “St. Dymphna”. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  6. a b “St. Dymphna”, Franciscan Mission Associates
  7. ^ St. Dymphna’s Special School, Ballina
  8. ^ “Nightlife”, New York Magazine

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