St. Dymphna was born around the seventh century in Ireland to theDamons. Her father, Damon, was a petty king in Oriel and her mother wasa strong Christian. Dymphna, like her mother, grew to desire the thingsof God wholeheartedly and at age fourteen, she became consecrated toChrist, vowing chastity. Her mother died shortly afterward, and becauseher father, Damons, had been crazily in love with her, it was hard forhim to bear the loss of a wife. A wife he so much treasured, so muchadmired, so much was in love with. This resulted in mental healthdeterioration. But then, he had to be remarried if he would keep beingking of Oriel. His counselors persuaded him to pick on another wife, andhe accepted, saying such would happen only if the new wife would carryon the beauty of his past wife. But all search for a new maiden that wasas beautiful as his deceased wife was futile, as the king was neversatisfied with all of the ladies that were presented to him. It was atthat moment that he began to desire his own daughter, given that Dymphnahad taken on the beauty and resemblance of her mother. Young Dymphna, inorder to keep up her vows to Christ, on learning the intentions of herfather, had eloped with her confessor and some other persons in order toprevent what was going to happen with her father. But then her hidingwith the confessor was soon discovered when her father used the coins ofher exchange, which she was using to do good to the people, to trace herwhereabouts. Damons had ordered for the death of Dymphna’s confessor,and when Dymphna had refused to return home with him, he drew his swordand used it to chop off his daughter’s head. As at this time, Dymphnawas only fifteen years of age.
Dedication and Devotion
Even with a pagan father and under difficult conditions, Dymphnaremained committed and devoted to Christ and to carrying out hisassignments. She had vowed to chastity after her consecration to Christ,all to remain fit for the Master’s use. And this, shhadad upheld, evenunto death.
In Gheel, present-day Belgium, where Dymphna had run to safety with herconfessor, it is on record that she had built a hospice that would caterto the needs of the poor and the sick. This is only an addition to themany other good works that she had previously done. Dymphna had aconcern for people who were suffering from mental health deterioration,and she’d been really instrumental towards their improvement, even at areally young age.
During St. Dymphna’s lifetime, she was committed to overseeing thewell-being of mentally ill persons, and this would earn her the patronsaint for people with mental diseases. Decades after her death, a Churchwas built in Gheel, dedicated to her honor. The house had served toprovide treatment for people who had one form of psychological problemor the other, especially around the mid-1400s. In the fifteenth century,another church was built in her honor, and this Church, up until now,still stands around the site where it is believed her body was firstburied.
Death and Canonization
St. Dymphna died while on the run from her father. It was this samefather who had discovered her and had killed her because she wouldn’treturn to Oriel with him to become his wife. What was most important forDymphna at the moment was fulfilling her vow to Christ of stayingcelibate. She was canonized in the Catholic Church in the year 1247 as apatron saint of mentally deranged people.
Prayer to St. Dymphna
Good Saint Dymphna, great wonder-worker in every affliction of mind andbody, I humbly implore your powerful intercession with Jesus throughMary, the Health of the Sick, in my present need. (Mention it.) SaintDymphna, martyr of purity, patroness of those who suffer with nervousand mental afflictions, beloved child of Jesus and Mary, pray to Themfor me and obtain my request.(Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be.)Saint Dymphna, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us.