Who is St. Dymphna? For those who maybe haven’t heard of her, she is the patron saint of those suffering from nervous and mental afflictions, and also one of my favorite saints.
Dymphna was born in Ireland in the seventh century to a pagan father and a devout Christian mother. At the age of fourteen, she consecrated herself to Christ and took a vow of chastity. Shortly after, Dymphna’s mother passed away, and her father began to suffer tremendously. After the death of his wife, her father became unstable, so the King’s counselors suggested that he remarry.
Her father decided to send out messengers to find a noblewoman who resembled his late wife. When no one could be found, his so-called “evil advisors” gave him sinful suggestions that he should marry Dymphna since the two looked alike. When Dymphna heard about this, she fled the castle, along with her confessor, a priest named Gerebran, two trusted servants, and the king’s fool. The six of them sailed to the town of Geel located in what we now know as Belgium. What the group did while hiding out there is unknown, but Dymphna did build a hospital for the poor and sick.
Soon after, her father, Damon, found them in Belgium. He ordered for the priest’s head to be removed from his body, and made an attempt to convince Dymphna to go back to Ireland to marry him. When Dymphna refused, Damon became enraged and struck Dymphna’s head from her shoulders with his sword. Dymphna was only 15 years old when she died.
In defense of her purity, she received the crown of martyrdom around the year 620, and later became known as the Lily of Eire. A church was built in Geel in Dymphna’s honor in 1349. In 1480, the church expanded because of multiple pilgrims arriving in need of treatment for mental illnesses. In the fifteenth century, the original St. Dymphna church in Geel burnt down. In 1532, however, it was rebuilt and consecrated, and it still stands above the location where her body was buried. Some of her remains can be found in the church and multiple miracles have been proven to have occurred at her shrine.
Saint Dymphna’s shrine in the U.S. can be found at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Massillon, Ohio, and St. Dymphna’s Special Education School can be found in Ballina, County Mayo, in the Republic of Ireland. Saint Dymphna is often shown with a crown on her head, dressed in royal robes, and holding a sword which symbolizes her martyrdom.
Saint Dymphna is the patroness of those suffering nervous and mental afflictions as well as victims of incest, and her feast day is celebrated on May 15. I turn to St. Dymphna when I feel like I am at my lowest, when I am feeling stressed, and before big tests, and so can you.
Good Saint Dymphna, great wonder-worker in every affliction of mind and body, I humbly implore your powerful intercession with Jesus through Mary, the Health of the Sick, in my present need. [Mention it.] Saint Dymphna, martyr of purity, patroness of those who suffer with nervous and mental afflictions, beloved child of Jesus and Mary, pray to Them for me and obtain my request. (Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be.) Saint Dymphna, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us.Prayer to St. Dymphna