DYMPHNA (500 a.d.)
is the patron saint of the nervous and mentally-disordered. She reminds us
of that terrifying modern tragedy.
mother, she was beautiful and devout; she was raised by a Christian nanny
and a priest. Thus, at an early age, she made the vow of chastity.
was a pagan who deeply grieved the death of her mother. He sought for a
second wife like unto his first but found none. His eyes turned to her who
looked like his wife--his daughter, Dymphna, and made incestuous advances.
priest adviser counseled her to flee to Belgium, then to Gheel. Discovering
they had escaped, the king went in search of them and found them. Seeing how
Dymphna refused his incestuous advances, the king cut off the priest's head.
When Dymphna continued to resist, the king himself struck off the head of
his beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter.
of the two martyrs are still in Gheel where there is an infirmary for the
mentally-disturbed. After a time of treatment, they stay with private
families around who have taken upon themselves this work of charity.