Mass Honors Young Martyr
Pray for Mental Health
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
May 11, 2023
ROCKFORD—Bishop David Malloy will celebrate a Mass for the feast of St. Dymphna on May 15, 5:30 p.m., at the Cathedral of St. Peter.
The public is invited to share in this Mass. 
But who is St. Dymphna and why a special Mass for her?
For starters, the May 15 Mass is sponsored by Catholic Charities Mental Health Ministry office and is being offered for all those who wish to pray for fiends, family and others who struggle with issues usch anxiety, loneliness, depression or any of the mental health challenges faced by so many in society to today.  
The Mass remembers a young woman who now is the patron for those suffering nervous and mental afflictions, as well as victims of incest.
Born in Ireland in the seventh century, Dymphna was 14 when she consecrated herself to Christ and took a vow of chastity.
She was only 15 when she was killed by her pagan father, Damon, a petty king who, after the death of Dymphna’s devout Christian mother, began to suffer a rapid deterioration of his mental stability along with a decent into evil. Wishing to marry another woman as beautiful as Dymphna’s mother but unable to find one, her father succumbed to suggestions by his evil advisors to marry his own daughter. 
When she heard of her father’s plot, Dymphna fled her castle home with her confessor, a priest named Gerebran, two trusted servants and the king’s fool, according to Catholic 
Online. They sailed to what is now Belgium and hid in the town of Geel (or Gheel).
Dymphna there is said to have built a hospice for the area’s poor and sick before her father discovered her location. She and her companions were captured, and Damon first ordered the priest to be beheaded. When Dymphna refused to return to Ireland to marry him, Damon drew his own sword and beheaded her. It was around the year 620.
After Damon left Geel, residents collected the girl’s and the priest’s remains and laid them to rest in a cave. Years later, the remains were moved to a more suitable location — the saintly priest’s remains now rest in Xanten, Germany, according to Wikipedia. 
Dymphna became known as the “Lily of Eire.” She was named a saint, although it is not known by whom. Her story was first recorded by a canon in the 13th century. The author “expressly stated that his work was based upon a long-standing oral tradition as well as a persuasive history of miraculous healings of the mentally ill.”
In 1349 a church honoring Dymphna was built in Geel. By 1480, so many pilgrims were coming there in need of treatment for mental ills that the church was expanded. The sanctuary overflowed with pilgrims again, and townspeople began accepting them into their homes, beginning a tradition of caring for the mentally ill that is said to continue to the present.
When the church burned to the ground, a new one was built and consecrated in 1532. It stands today above the location where her body was originally buried. Her remains are placed in a silver reliquary in the church in Geel, and miraculous cures of mental illness, and also of epilepsy, still occur at her shrine, according to Our Catholic Prayers.
Her relics also can be found at the National Shrine to St. Dymphna at St. Mary Church in Massillon, Ohio, which is open to pilgrims and visitors.
Dymphna is often pictured awkwardly holding a sword; older depictions show her sword pricking the neck of a demon, symbolizing her title of Demon Slayer. She also is portrayed holding a lamp with a chained demon at her feet. 
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