An English In Kentucky


















 Thursday July 21st 2016Tim Candler9


     Saint Dymphna is a Patron Saint of Mental Health Professionals. A solid Medieval Saint, her story is a particularly odd one in the genre of Medieval Girl Saints who had their heads chopped off either by their father or by an unbalanced suitor. Dymphna's father was a Pagan Irish chieftain, her mother a devout and Holy Christian. Dymphna as a girl took to the good book herself, she made her vows of chastity. And then when her mother died, her father developed an interest in his daughter which was in every respect unnatural. Fearing for her chastity, not to mention the unspeakable sin not even Lot can be forgiven, Dymphna fled to Belgium along with her Confessor, a man called Gerebburnus, a couple of trusted servants and her father's Fool. In Belgium, she used her resources to build a hospice for the poor and the sick. One of the coins Dymphna used to pay for the hospice eventually found its way back to her father, who was then able to trace her to Belgium. He wanted her back. When Dymphna refused her father's demand, he travelled to Belgium, he cut off his daughter's head with his sword and he killed Gerebburnus.



      Four hundred years later a church was built near the hospice Saint Dymphna founded. This church  increasingly became a place of pilgrimage, and it became a safe place for many who might not be all there, or, who have a few pegs missing and there's a whole range of expressions around the idea of a box of crayons. In time the church was so popular it had to be expanded, and expanded again, thus creating the tradition of ministering to the mentally ill by offer them sanctuary. There's no record of what happened to her father's Fool nor is there any useful information about whether there was any Saint Barbara or Saint Winfred type vengeance inflicted by the Great Oneness upon Dymphna's horrible father. The other thing about Saint Dymphna is, when she was killed, her body and that of Gerebburnus were buried in a cave. And a time came when it just seemed wrong to have two such wonderful people buried in such a way. The remains of Saint Dymphna and Saint Gerebburnus were found and their relics distributed. Then sometime in the middle of the Nineteenth Century a relic from Saint Dymphna found it's way to a town in Ohio called Massillon which has an excellent Lunatic Asylum, or Behavioral Healthcare Unit. Massillon is a just fifty miles south of Cleveland.


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