[St. Pachomius Library]

St. Dympna

Nothing historical is known of the saints whose relics were discovered in Gheel in the XIII Century: a brick found with the coffins bore the name Dympna. Shortly after the opening of the grave site, reports that epileptics and lunatics had been cured because of St. Dympna began to circulate, and after the XIV Century, the citizens of Gheel established a system of care for these people, who came to Gheel to be healed. The town is still home to a mental hospital with a high rate of cure.

Legends say that Dympna was the daughter of a pagan Celtic chieftan from, variously, Ireland, Britain, or Brittany. After the death of his wife, this leader developed an incestuous passion for his daughter, who fled to Belgium with her confessor, Gerebermus. When her father found them, he killed the two Christians.

Karen Rae Keck


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