Michele Bacci wrote asking about a saint whose standard name in English is Dymphna.  I remember my grandmother's devotion to her as patron saint of the mentally ill.

The old Catholic Encyclopedia says that her cult is first attested in the thirteenth century in Cambrai, when the first extant Vita was composed.  This vita says that Dymphna was the daughter of a kind of Ireland, secretly baptized as a Christian.  Lots of discourse about virginity and going to extremes to avoid an incestuous marriage.

The article by J. P. Kirsch from the old Catholic Encyclopedia is very informative; it is available electronically at


Patrick Nugent.
Patrick J. Nugent
Department of Religion
Earlham College
Richmond, Indiana 47374 USA

(765) 983-1413
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