BORN IN IRELAND in the seventh century, Saint Dymphna was the daughter of Damon, a pagan king of Oriel, and a devout Christian mother. At the age of 14 Saint Dyphmna consecrated herself to Christ, taking a vow of chastity. Shortly thereafter, her mother died. In the aftermath of his beloved wife's death Damon's mental health sharply deteriorated. Eventually the king's counsellors pressed him to remarry. Damon agreed, but only on the condition that a bride as beautiful as his deceased wife was procured for him. After searching fruitlessly, Damon began to desire his daughter, because of the strong resemblance she bore to her mother.
When Dymphna learned of her father's intentions she swore to uphold her vows, and fled his court along with her confessor Father Gerebernus and some servants. They sailed towards the continent, eventually landing in what is present-day Belgium, where they took refuge in the town of Geel.
There Saint Dymphna built a hospice for the poor and sick of the region. This charitable use of her wealth eventually led to her discovery by her father, as some of the coins used enabled her father to trace them to Belgium. Damon sent his agents to pursue his daughter and her companions. When their hiding place was discovered, Damon travelled to Geel to recover his daughter.
Damon ordered his soldiers to kill Father Gerebernus and tried to force Dymphna to return with him to Ireland, but she resisted. Furious, Damon drew his sword and struck off his daughter's head. So at the age of 15 Saint Dymphna received the crown of martyrdom in defense of her purity. After Dymphna and Gerebernus were martyred, the residents of Geel buried them in a nearby cave. Years later, they decided to move the remains to a more suitable location.
The victim of a deranged father, Saint Dymphna has made her specialty the healing of mental illness and emotional and nervous disorders. To this day, hundreds enjoy the grace of her intercession.
Monastery Icons' new icon of Saint Dymphna is available in our full range of icon formats and sizes – plaques, prints, cathedral sizes, and banners. Subject code 937.