may 15. dymphna, whose father beheaded her
Patron of those suffering nervous and mental afflictions and epilepsy, runaways, victims of incest, depression
Dymphna was born to a pagan father and a devout Christian mother. She and her mother were a pair of beauties, each bearing an extraordinary likeness to the other. When Dymphna was 14 years old, she consecrated herself to Christ, vowing to remain chaste. Shortly thereafter, Dymphna’s mother passed away. Her father--unhinged and prone to moody silences--vowed only to remarry if he met a woman as beautiful as his deceased bride. He sent messengers far and wide to find women of noble birth who resembled his dead wife. As such, his “evil advisers” suggested that he should marry Dymphna, who was his dead wife’s living likeness. He consented to the plan.
In fear, Dymphna fled from the castle to Belgium at sea with her confessor, a pair of servants, and the king’s fool. At first they lived new lives as beneficent hermits. But spies from their homeland trailed them, and when they paid at an inn with the same Irish gold coins that Dymphna had used, the innkeeper innocently revealed her location.
The spies sent for her father. When eventually he found her, he ordered her to return to Ireland and wed him. When she refused, her enraged father withdrew his sword. He struck Dymphna’s neck and she fell at his feet. He left her to die. His men beheaded her confessor as well. A group of Belgian people collected the pair’s remains, entombed them in sarcophagi, and buried them in a nearby cave. When years later, workmen removed the black earth that concealed her, they were astonished to find a snow-white stone tomb. A red tile lies on Dymphna’s breast, reading: “Here lies the holy virgin and martyr, Dymphna.”
Shortly after her death, five “lunatics” wandered to the countryside where her father had murdered her. They spent the night at the site, only to wake up cured.