The legend of St. Dymphna (ca. 7th c.) evolved in two parts, one a tragedy, one a tale of healing. The tragedy: Dymphna was an Irish princess; her mother, who was very beautiful, died, driving her father into near madness; the father, seeking someone who matched his wife’s beauty, settled upon Dymphna, and he made advances to her; she fled Ireland with an old priest named Gerebernus. They finally settled in Gheel, Belgium. The father pursued them to Gheel with soldiers; there, in a rage, he ordered the soldiers to kill both the priest and his daughter. The story continues that a group of troubled souls and epileptics witnessed the scene and were miraculously cured. Building on that tradition, a sanitarium was constructed near the site of the killings, and it quickly became–and still is–one of the most progressive hospitals for the treatment of the mentally and emotionally troubled. Thus the transition from Dymphna’s tragedy to healing.
In her left hand Dymphna holds a book, a symbol of wisdom, one of the cures of mental and emotional distress. In her right hand she holds a butterfly, the ancient symbol of Psyche and of the soul and mind, the attributes that St. Dymphna is reputed to help cure.
This one of a kind piece is hand carved by American artist Hank Schlau and hand painted by his wife Karen Schlau. Made of durable material that can be displayed both indoors and outdoors.
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