Sunday, May 06, 2007
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Hi and welcome to my blog.
I had to write that or I'd never get this started.
Why St.Dymphna ? Well she's a martyr the patron saint of those afflicted with mental illness and nervous disorders. Story has it that after the death of her mother, her grief stricken father tried to force her to marry her. She refused and ran off with the local bishop to France (I also heard somewhere... That the court jester joined them). Since she was a martyr chances are you can guess the end. I don't want to spent this whole post recanting her story, it has been documented numerous times, so if you're interested try here: The National Shrine of St. Dymphna
So where does the mental illness come in?
- is it her dad ?
- is it that the group she ran off with sounds like the opening of an old bar joke (a virgin, a bishop and, a court jester walk into a bar...)? Speaking of bars, this is a wonderful one I used to hang out in back in the 90's... doesnt look like it's changed much: http://www.stdymphnas.com/index2.shtml
- is it that she went to France ?
You know, I don't think it really matters. Though I do like the notion of the presence of a Jester... It's all too rare in the great stories of sainthood, and martyrdom to have any hope of funny. Joan of Arc, Padre Pio, and Mother Theresa (who isn't quite a saint _yet_) were all really amazing but they just weren't fun. I think they needed a comedic foil.
So what does matter ? Maybe her legacy of caring for people who are traditionally gravely misunderstood, abused and outcast from society. Since people who suffered from afflictions like epilepsy and schizophrenia were considered possessed and not ill, they were traditionally subject to less than humane treatment. But in Gheel, a wave of compassion came over the town. Townsfolk welcomed former patients to their families. The outcasts were treated with love and not torture. A concept well ahead of it's time in 7-8th century europe.
Is her legacy relevant today ? Yes, I think so.For some reason there seems to a "lightness" in people when they speak of her. There's no small amount of appreciation for a legacy of "compassion for the outcast/nonconformist/misfit". There is a gentleness, a kindness that speaks to me of the original intent of christianity.