Our Patron

The pain is real - but so is hope.

Saint Dymphna's Prayer

Lord we pray for those who have a mental illness.
Help us understand that the way we talk about people
with a mental illness affects the people themselves and
how we treat the illness. So often people who have a
mental illness are known as their illness; people say that
“she is bipolar” or “he is schizophrenic”; when we talk
about mental illness we should not use that phrase.
People who have cancer are not cancer; those with heart
disease are not heart disease. Let us always remember
that people with a mental illness are not the illness – they
are beautiful creations of God.

There is so much fear, ignorance and hurtful attitudes
that the people who suffer from mental illness needlessly
suffer further. Help us to support and be compassionate
to those with a mental illness, every bit as much as we
support those who suffer from any other illness.
Grant courage to those for whom we pray and fill
them with hope. If it is according to Your Divine Will,
grant them the recovery and cure they desire. Help them
to remember You love them; they are never alone.
Lord we Pray for those who have a Mental Illness
Saint Dymphna, Patron of those with a Mental Illness, pray for us.

Who was St. Dymphna?

Dymphna was born in Ireland sometime in the seventh century to a pagan father and devout Christian mother. When she was fourteen, she consecrated herself to Christ and took a vow of chastity. Soon afterward, her mother died and her father - who had loved his wife deeply - began to suffer a rapid deterioration of his mental stability.

So unhinged was Dymphna's father, Damon, that the King's counselors suggested he remarry. Though he was still grieving for his wife, he agreed to remarry if a woman as beautiful as she could be found.

Damon sent messengers throughout his town and other lands to find woman of noble birth who resembled his wife and would be willing to marry him, but when none could be found, his evil advisors whispered sinful suggestions to marry his own daughter. So twisted were Damon's thoughts that he recognized only his wife when he looked upon Dymphna, and so he consented to the arrangement.

When she heard of her father's misguided plot, Dymphna fled her castle with her confessor, a priest named Gerebran, two trusted servants, and the king's fool. The group sailed toward what is now called Belgium, and hid in the town of Geel.

Though it becomes uncertain what exactly happened next, the best-known version claims the group settled in Geel, where Dymphna built a hospital for the poor and sick, but in using her wealth, her father was able to discover her location.

When Damon found his daughter was in Belgium, he traveled to Geel and captured them. He ordered the priest's head to be separated from his body and attempted to convince Dymphna to return to Ireland and marry him.

When Dymphna refused, Damon became enraged and drew his sword. He struck Dymphna's head from her shoulders and left her there. When she died, Dymphna was only fifteen-years-old. After her father left Geel, the residents collected both Dymphna and Gerebran's remains and laid them to rest in a cave.

In defense of her purity, Dymphna received the crown of martyrdom around the year 620 and became known as the "Lily of Éire. In 1349, a church honoring St. Dymphna was built in Geel, and by 1480, so many pilgrims were arriving in need of treatment for mental ills, that the church was expanded. The expanded sanctuary was eventually overflowing again, leaving the townspeople to accept them into their homes, which began a tradition of care for the mentally ill that continues to this day.

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