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Saint Dymphna of Gheel Icon - S439

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Saint Dymphna lived in the seventh century. She was born in Oriel in northeastern Ireland to Damon, a pagan king; her mother was a Christian. When she was 14 years old, Dymphna took a vow of chastity. Her mother died soon afterwards.

After the death of his wife, Damon became mentally disturbed and began to desire his daughter, due to her strong resemblance to her mother. When Dymphna learned of her father’s intentions, she fled to continental Europe and settled in Gheel in present-day Belgium. Using her wealth, she established a hospital for the poor.

Damon, meanwhile, sent his agents to search for his daughter. When they reported that she was in Gheel, Damon traveled there to confront her. He tried to force her to return to Ireland. Dymphna resisted her father's unnatural lust and refused to go with him. Enraged, he drew his sword and beheaded her. She maintained her vow of chastity and her obedience to the law of God to her martyric death.

Saint Dymphna is commemorated on May 15. She is considered a patron saint of those who suffer mental illness. In the icon she holds a cross, symbolizing martyrdom.

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