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VIGNETTES ON SAINTS




ST. DYMPHNA (500 a.d.)

 

St. Dymphna is the patron saint of the nervous and mentally-disordered. She reminds us of that terrifying modern tragedy.

 

Like her 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.

 

Her father 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.

 

Dymphna's 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. 

 

The relics 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.

 

 

 

 

 

(10-01-02)

 

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