Okay, So I’m a day late. St. Dymphna’s feast day was yesterday, May 15th. Still, the whole month of May is mental health awareness month, so in a sense I’m not too late. Since my other job is life coaching to first responders and their families through First Responder Coaching (yes, shameless plug), mental health is a strong focus for me.
There’s a terrible stigma surrounding mental health and it’s got to go. People will sign your cast when you break your arm. They’ll visit you in the hospital when you’re ill or cook for your family. But if they find out you have a mental illness, most people don’t know how to handle it. Often, they handle it by not handling it. Mental illness is ignored, hidden, and denied both in care and in society.
This isn’t just something that affects veterans or a small selection of society. Our whole culture is changed by this. We as a human race are suffering in our hearts. We’ve pushed out family values and the sanctity of life. No wonder we’re a mess inside! We’re filled with anxiety, stress, depression, attention deficits, and much more. Here’s where St. Dymphna comes in.
St. Dymphna lived in the 7th century. Her mother was Christian but her father was a pagan. Just after Dymphna turned 14, she consecrated herself to Christ and took a vow of chastity. Soon after, her mother died, leaving her father devastated. He was advised to remarry but would only marry someone who looked like his wife. Twisted and suffering mental health ailments, and with sick encouragement from his advisors, he looked to his daughter. Dymphna fled with her confessor, Fr. Gerebran, and a few others to a town called Geel in what is now Belgium. There, she built a hospital for the poor and sick, but her father followed her. The priest was beheaded and, when Dymphna still refused to return and marry her father, she was beheaded as well by her own father. She was canonized in the 600s and many miracles have taken place at her shrine.
We can pray to St. Dymphna anytime we feel anxious or especially for those (including ourselves) suffering with any mental illness. Here’s one way to pray to her:
Good Saint Dymphna, great wonder-worker in every affliction of mind and body, I humbly implore your powerful intercession with Jesus through Mary, the Health of the Sick, in my present need. (Mention it.) Saint Dymphna, martyr of purity, patroness of those who suffer with nervous and mental afflictions, beloved child of Jesus and Mary, pray to Them for me and obtain my request.
(Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be.)
Saint Dymphna, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us.
There are several times in the Bible the Lord tells us not to be anxious, but perhaps my favorite is Philippians 4:6-7: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s cast our worries on Him and pray to St. Dymphna for support. Don’t be afraid to check in on each other. You don’t have to know how to solve mental health issues, but we need to acknowledge them and pray more deeply to start.