Feast of St. Dymphna

St. Dymphna
St. Dymphna
605 – 620
Feast Day: May 15
Patron of: Mental Illness
Invoked for: epilepsy, incest victims, runaways, demonic possession, schizophrenia, family peace, calm, consolation

“Saint Dymphna, renowned for many miracles, please hear my plea.”

As a victim of a mentally ill father, Saint Dymphna offers much solace to those suffering from psychological problems as well as their families. She is invoked to bring peace to the unbalanced as well as create an aura of calm and consolation for those who live in the midst of instability.

Having lived such a short life so long ago, there is very little factual information available about Saint Dymphna. According to a written report commissioned by the Bishop of Cambrai seven hundred years after her death, Dymphna was born an Irish princess. Her mother was a devout Christian married to Damon, a pagan king. Dymphna’s mother made sure her daughter was brought up as a Christian, having installed her own confessor, Gerebran into her household. At the age of fourteen Dymphna lost her mother and her father went mad with grief. After a period of mourning, he searched all of Ireland for a new companion but could not find a woman who even remotely resembled his first wife. Because Dymphna was almost the exact image of her mother, Damon decided to marry her and make her his queen, disregarding the fact that she was his own daughter. In order to thwart this plan, Gerebran and Dymphna escaped the castle and went abroad to Antwerp. Eventually settling in Gheel in Belgium, they lived as religious hermits. Dymphna studied to be an anchoress which was a woman who lived in a room connected to a church with a window open to the street. Towns in the middle ages usually supported these people who offered their knowledge to those in need of advice. It took Damon and his men a year to find Dymphna and Gerebran. The priest was executed immediately and Dymphna was offered her father’s kingdom in exchange for returning home with him. When she refused, he decapitated her in a rage. Both bodies were immediately buried. Since epilepsy and mental illness were all thought to be caused by demonic possession, those suffering from mental afflictions were never welcomed to live in one place and were doomed to wander from town to town. Soon after Dymphna’s death, a group of five of these social pariahs slept at the site of her murder and were instantly healed by the blood in the earth.

In the 13th century, the remains of an unknown man and woman were accidentally disinterred at Gheel. The name DYMPNA was written on a brick over the woman’s remains. As the remains were reinterred in a tomb, miraculous healings of the mentally ill and epileptics in the region were recorded. Gheel became a pilgrimage site for anyone suffering from any form of mental illness. By the end of the thirteenth century a major hospital and treatment center was built there for those suffering from nervous disorders. To this day, Gheel offers the most advanced and humane treatment for the mentally ill in the world. Saint Dymphna’s remains, in the church named for her there continues to be a place of pilgrimage.

Symbols: crown because of royal birth, shackled serpent representing the devil who was thought to be responsible for the mentally ill due to demonic possession, book because she was an anchoress and religious scholar, lily for purity, martyrs palm

Novena to Saint Dymphna

O God, we humbly beseech you through your servant Saint Dymphna, who sealed with her blood the love she bore you, to grant relief to those who suffer from mental afflictions and nervous disorders, especially (mention the afflicted person).

Saint Dymphna, helper of the mentally afflicted, pray for us.

Saint Dymphna, comforter of the despondent, pray for us.

Saint Dymphna, renowned for many miracles, please hear my plea.


(Recite one Glory Be).

16 thoughts on “Feast of St. Dymphna

  1. I have bipolar 1 and OCD. It’s pretty severe right now and I find myself really struggling. I would appreciate Any and all prayers and I will ask for her intercession as well. Thank you!


  2. Please pray for my daughter in law who has just attempted suicide. Her father raped her continuously as a child and these memories surface from time to time especially if she doesn’t take her medicine. She has two beautiful daughters whom we fear are suffering from the repercussions of all that is happening. My son is at his wits end. My husband and I are trying our best but being in our seventies cannot work as we used to do . We need a miracle that’s for sure. Please Saint Dymphna help us


  3. My 37 year old Son is suffering severely with hearing voices. He has been diagnosed with schizophrenia but says medications did not help and does not want to seek further medical help. We cannot force him. I will pray to St. Dymphna for any help possible for my Son. He is very unhappy I feel a failed marriage has triggered great anxiety furthering his schizophrenia. Please hear my prayers.


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  5. I have a personal testimony. I suffer from ADD, depression, anxiety, nervousness, negative obsessive thoughts, and paranoia, although most would look at me and say normal when u really get to know me u see that’s not always the case. I was recently in a relationship that brougth up a host of fears and anxieties, couldn’t shake it to save my life, and ended up losing my relationship to my devastation. I knew enough was enough. Somehow I found Saint Dymphna online doing a search for somehting else printed out the three page novena and have been saying it for about 2 or 3 months. first mainly for me ex b/c I thought initially that he was the problem – he suffers from some things as well but also was praying for myself and it did take a while but finally a light cracked through the surface and little by little things starting getting better. I’m in therapy now, using supplements and other things to treat the ADD and depression, listening to affirmations. I actually discovered my ADD by accident, when I had some caffeine. I had 2 days of the greatest mental emotional relief I ever. I felt amazing. Now, I’m backing off the caffeine b/c what I really need are stimulants for proper treatment and have found other things that are working as well. I say this novena nearly every night. Trust in her intercession. It works. Be persistent. You will find relief for your sufferings. We are not bad people, just ill. There’s a difference.


  6. My husband passed away on the 14th of May. It’s 2am and I couldn’t sleep so I decided to google search novenas in search of a novena to st Joseph. Up comes the story of st Dymphna. Well, my son has what I think is mental issues. He abuses drugs, is very angry, violent, and doesn’t reason well even when he is sober. He started college, didnt finish, and has not returned for two years now. He hasnt been able to hold a job.
    I think it’s very interesting that this novena popped up. I will ask her to pray for my son!


  7. One of the most difficult, but exciting adventures while wandering the streets of New York City is finding a bathroom but this leads into some exciting surprises. In 1997 I was walking down the exotic St. Mark’s Place, on the lower east side, which has the flavor of a counter-cultural fashion show and parade. Looking for a bathroom, I saw an old fashioned wooden pub sign about a block away that said St. Dymphna’s Pub and Restaurant. Inside, behind the bar, where all kinds of holy cards and pictures of St. Dymphna. I decided to engage the Irishman who was the owner, in conversation. I asked him if he knew the story of St. Dymphna and if he knew that she was the Patroness of the Mentally Afflicted, And he said, “Yes of course”. And I said “Why did you name this pub after her?” And he said, “Have you looked outside?” One of the reasons that saints like Gemma, Benedict Joseph Labre and Dymphna are so popular today is that there is a great escalation of mental suffering today as we all try unsuccessfully to make sense out of utter the confusion and madness and violence that we are asked to live in. At some time or other we all go through a time which resembles a psychic break because the soul can never adapt to lies or insanity. This icon is lovingly dedicated to St. Dymphna’s Pub and all the little islands out there which provide comfort for shattered pilgrims.


  8. I’m confused or astonished. Last week I received the same email on St. Dymphna from you. The previous day I had received a prayer request from a cousin to pray for a nephew that was having mental problems. I forwarded the novena to her and we have been praying it since 9 May. Now I can’t find last week’s mail that you sent me.

    Did you send or it was God’s hand in this? Indeed Glory to God.

    To God be the Glory! Sent from my iPad


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