24 November 2017

Saint Dymphna

Saint Dymphna


I just finished the icon of Saint Dymphna, a 7th century Irish princess and martyr. She was a Christian, but her father, a king, was a pagan. After her Christian mother died, her father searched far and wide for a new wife as beautiful as his first. He listened to the demonic idea of marrying his daughter. Dymphna fled to the continent along with her spiritual father Gerebernus and ended up in present-day Geel, Belgium. There, she founded a hospice for the poor and sick, building it with her royal wealth. Her father was able to trace the coins back to her. He arrived, ordered Father Gerebernus to be killed, then forced his 15-year-old daughter to marry him. When she refused, he beheaded her himself. Her feast day is May 15.

Throughout the centuries, St. Dymphna's hospice in Geel evolved into a place of treatment for the mentally ill from all over Europe. These pilgrims were called as "boarders" rather than "patients" and lived with the town's residents. St. Dymphna is known as a patron saint of mental health and illness.

I used celtic motifs in her brocade and inscribed into the gold, as well as an Irish uncial script. The cross represents her martyrdom in shedding her blood, the green represents her homeland of Ireland, and the white represents her virginity and purity, and can also represent her white martyrdom of leaving her homeland on a self-imposed exile. This icon is based on icons of other royal virgin-martyrs, especially Ss. Katherine (whom we celebrate today) and Barbara. While not royalty, St. Markella of Chios has an almost identical story; she was martyred by her father who wanted to marry her.

No comments:

Post a Comment