St. Dymphna's Day

St. Dymphna's Day

May 15
According to legend, St. Dymphna (or Dimpna) was the daughter of a seventh-century Irish king. She fled with her priest to Geel, Belgium, to escape her pagan father's demand for an incestuous marriage. There she was found by the king, who killed her and the priest.
St. Dymphna came to be known as the patron saint of the insane, and for centuries mental patients were brought to the site of her relics in Geel, where the townsfolk looked after them. An infirmary was eventually built next to the Church of St. Dymphna, and by 1852 Geel was placed under state medical supervision.
Today there is a large, well-equipped sanatorium for the mentally ill in Geel, known throughout the world for its "boarding out" system, which allows harmless mental patients to be cared for as paying guests in the homes of local citizens. On May 15 special church services are held and a religious procession moves through the streets carrying a stone from St. Dymphna's alleged tomb—a relic that at one time was applied to patients as part of their therapy.
CONTACTS:
Geel Tourist Office
Market 33
Geel, B 2440 Belgium
32-14-57-09-50; fax: 32-14-59-15-57
www.visitbelgium.com
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 82
BkFest-1937, p. 42
DaysCustFaith-1957, p. 123
FestWestEur-1958, p. 11
OxYear-1999, p. 208