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Martyrdom of Saint Dymphna

St. Dymphna: The Courage of a Teenage Irish Girl

May 15, 2017 By Nick Rabiipour

May 15 is the feast day of St. Dymphna, a young woman of great courage. She is the patroness of the mentally and emotionally ill and other nervous disorders.  How did this come to pass?  Read the incredible and heart-wrenching story of St. Dymphna below.


Saint Dymphna was born in 7th century Ireland to a pagan Irish chieftain named Damon and a beautiful Christian woman. Dymphna's mother imparted the Christian faith to her daughter and had her secretly baptized against her father’s wishes.

Her mother tragically died while St. Dymphna was only a teenager.  Her father, who loved his wife deeply, was driven to madness by her death.  Delusion and mental illness overcame him and he eventually sought to marry his daughter because she reminded him of his departed wife.

St. Dymphna, a devout Christian girl, refused to do such a wicked thing as marry her father.  She resisted her father's advances and courageously fled Ireland with her confessor, St. Gerebernus, and a couple of servants into Belgium.

Her father was relentless in his mad pursuit of Dymphna and followed them into Belgium. When he eventually discovered their location he ordered his men to kill St. Gerebernus and the other servants. He then attempted to convince St. Dymphna to come back to Ireland with him and be his wife. Again she courageously refused. In a fit of rage he beheaded her, his own daughter, in Belgium. According to tradition she was only 15 years old when she died.

The story of St. Dymphna, patron saint of mental illnesses and nervous disorders.

God, as always, uses circumstances surrounding the death of his saints to bring about good.  After St. Dymphna's tragic murder, those suffering from mental or emotional illness would come to the site of her death and receive miraculous healing.  Later an infirmary was built over the site where she died and many miracles were reported there as well.

St. Dymphna’s story should give all of us courage and strength, especially that through her God has provided a powerful patroness for those suffering from mental and emotional disorders.

See also Mental Illness: Five Patron Saints to Invoke

If you have loved ones suffering from mental or emotional illness then I encourage you to invoke St. Dymphna.  You can find St. Dymphna devotional gifts here.

Have you or a loved one benefited from the intercession of St. Dymphna? If so, please share with our readers in the comments below.

This article has been updated and was originally published in May 2013. © The Catholic Company. All rights reserved.


Chioma okoli says
Oct 19 2018 11:32AM
My mother is blind she needs to see again
Tara says
Aug 14 2018 9:07PM
St. Dymphna helped me when I was trying to live with depression. It was only with her help that I was able to ask for help and get well. I'm so grateful.
What happened to the father after killing the confessor and the daughter.
As far as my research goes, that appears to be unknown.
Strawberry says
Mar 4 2018 11:31AM
Hi, A Girl,

I am also a 13-year-old girl I am using St. Dymphna as my confirmation saint name and will pray for her to Interested for you and your family. Stay strong and trust in God even if you don't realize it now he will always end up do whats best for you and your family. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

Stay strong, hoping the best for you and your family.
Phillip Kennedy says
Feb 24 2018 4:58PM
My wife runs into other patients with the wheel chair and plunders in their rooms. These are rare but truly symptoms of having Dementia. So I'm asking St.Dymphna to change her habits and make her more pleasant to care for.

I'm also asking St Dymphna to get DCF to approve our application for assistance to care for her as nursing homes are terribly expensive. IF it's God's Will. Amen
A girl says
Jan 25 2018 3:38PM
Hi I am a 13 year old girl. When I was 8 years old my mom started having delusions and I think she is bi-polar. She took meds and was fine. Then when I was in fifth grade it happened again. She got on meds again and was completely fine. We then moved to a different state and we didn't have medical insurance and she had to stop taking her meds. It has been 6 months since she stopped and she is far worse then any other time. She went to the hospital and started meds. She came home a few days ago and now all of a sudden she has got it in her head that its ok to stop her medication. I am worried my family is going to be broken over this. My brother is angry all the time, which causes my dad to be angry, and he is threatening to divorce her after almost 14 years old marriage. I don't know if that would actually happen but I need anyone who is reading this to please pray for me and my family
Paula Kuhrke says
May 15 2017 12:06PM
I love St. Dymphna! She has helped me endless times thru my life for all I've prayed for. I can't wait to meet her in heaven and thank her. She has powerful intercession given to her from God.
Marianna Zimmie says
May 15 2017 9:44AM
Pray to her everyday!
RitaM says
Mar 4 2017 4:46PM
My son is seriously mentally ill and has a drug/alcohol addiction as well. I know they go hand-in-hand frequently. Thank you for the story of St Dymphna and Matthew Talbot. I will pray to both of them daily and will let you know sometime in the future what becomes of him.
Patricia Martin says
Jul 8 2016 9:53AM
Good to know this story of st dympha
V Bassett says
May 17 2016 6:18AM
I believe her circumstances in life brought about her holiness. It's important to understand this as we live through difficult times in our own lives. God knows our sufferings and gives it glory in eternity as long as we patiently endure to the end. This is what having faith is about. It's a daily struggle for all of us but it's worth it in the end. Suffering has meaning. Christ teaches us this. We should take up our cross and follow him and his bride the church. Amen.
Angela McCrary says
May 15 2016 11:33PM
When I was taking care of my mama she began having panic attacks, anxiety. In a 2 week period we went to the ER 4 or 5 times. On one of these trips she had to go by ambulance. I followed the ambulance, her syptoms were like those of a stroke. I know once we got there that I couldn't go back there with her until they got her in a room and settled. I let the nurses know I was there waiting and went to get a drink for the soda machine. Not having change I put $2 in, got my drink and went to get my change. I got my change and a St Dymphna medal in the change slot. I had never heard of her and kept asking if anyone knew who she was, nobody knew. They decided to keep my mama overnight and when I got home I googled her and found out what she was the patron saint of. I called the nurses to let them know, I was in tears and she broke down too. The next morning I brought the medal and a safety pin and pinned it on my mama's gown. Someone asked me if I had gotten blessed, I told them I didn't need to, it was sent from Heaven and I truly believe that. My cousin found the novena. printed it and lamenated it. My mama prayed the novena along with her St Jude novena and wore her medal from that day on. When she passed away I had it pinned to her clothes and buried her with it along with the novenas to St Jude and St Dymphna.
Bronwyn says
May 15 2016 4:50PM
St Dymphna is a saint I pray to very often and she has responded so quickly. My devotion to her encourages me to share her story with others.
Julie says
May 15 2016 12:54PM
I have prayed to St. dymphna's intercession for the last 2 years for my son and I believe through her intercession and the intercession of a few other saints my son is much better and miraculously healed. Praise be to God!!
Carol Clark says
Jul 23 2015 2:15AM
Glad to find the info about Saint Dymphna.
stephanie says
Jun 27 2015 8:06PM
Obviously this St, wasn't able to use her status to save herself from her mentally ill father
Hi Stephanie, her heroism in the face of death is precisely what gives her the status to intercede from heaven for those who suffer from mental illness.
Kimmie says
Jan 28 2015 8:20AM
Great story ! Great saint ! God bless all who have mental illness not easy to have or live with in eve everyday life. I have struggled with it for many years lots of ups and downs.I am happy to know that there is a St.Dymphna looking after people in need.
Frances Stuart says
May 17 2013 11:17PM
My daughter received a head injury from a drunk driver and since that has had to be on anti-depression medication to be able to cope with everyday situations, which for some people to handle would be no problem. She has been blessed with two beautiful little boys. But there are times stress can become overwhelming for her but I will get some prayer cards and medals for her and family to pray for St.Dymphna's intercession, Thank you.
Verlene Del Porto says
May 17 2013 8:01AM
I have never heard of this Saint but was very interested in her story. My family has suffered from a lot of depression, anxiety, etc. Especially my daughter whom I am very concerned about. Thank you for sharing this story.
Bobbie says
May 16 2013 4:46PM
I have rea about this Saint before have several in the family suffering fro mental illiness as friends are too.
Kathy Borochoff says
May 16 2013 4:04PM
I heard that this Saint was also for someone going away from the church. I was also wondering is it for depression, ADHD and add people.
Susan Pavlich says
May 16 2013 3:44PM
I would like to have her metal. My sister and brother suffered from mental illness. I wish I would have known about her. They have both passed away and I was the oldest. It was so difficult for them. They suffered greatly in this life. I would like to do something for the mentally ill. I just have not figured out what. Many people judge them harshly and want nothing to do with them. They have a disease and it is not their fault. God be with the mentally ill and send someone to them who truly understands their condition.....
carol oldaker says
May 16 2013 2:52PM
We all need a Saint like this thanks.
Mary Jane says
May 16 2013 2:05PM
I knew of St. Dymphna for a few years and gave prayer cards to several people I knew were struggling with depression. Our family has been cursed with this, 5 of my children besides myself and my husband. Last summer I started saying a litany to her at bedtime. At the end of August, I had a stroke. The whole time I was in the hospital, I continued the litany. (I still say it every night.) Any way, throughout this ordeal neither I nor my husband have had a single depressive episode. Needless to say, I believe in her.
Dianne Collins says
May 16 2013 12:31PM
Thank u so much. Never knew about this awesome Saint

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