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