AKA: Mental Health
Mental illnesses comes in all different types such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, personality disorders or schizophrenia. Dealing with mental illness or even loving someone with it can be a difficult and complex journey. Hopefully you or they are seeking professional help from a mental health professional like a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. It’s also important to have a support system of people who understand and care about you. Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or support groups to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. It's important to be patient and kind to yourself. Remember to celebrate small victories, and to not get discouraged if you experience setbacks. The key to mental health is to remain hopeful.
Battling mental illness can also be a spiritual struggle so it might be wise to visit with your priest or spiritual advisor. Prayer can also be a helpful tool for some people in coping with mental illness, as it can provide a sense of comfort, hope, and a connection to God in a difficult time. It offers a safe space for individuals to express their fears, concerns, and emotions and feel a sense of relief. And praying to the Patron Saint of Mental Illness is a great place to start.
Who is the Patron Saint of Mental Illness
The most well-known Patron Saint of Mental Illness is St. Dymphna. But there are other saints who make worthy intercessors for those struggling with their mental health. There is St. Christina the Astonishing, St. Drogo and St. Therese of Lisieux. You may also want to look at the Patron Saint of Healing as well.
St. Dymphna, according to legend, was the daughter of a 7th century Celtic chieftain who had a mental breakdown from grief after his wife died. He sent his men all over the countryside to find a woman that would compare to his dead wife but without success. His obsession turned to his daughter who resembled her mother.
She escaped with the help of a priest and two other friends. They fled to Belgium and built an oratory there and became hermits. Her father tracked them down by following the coins of his realm that they had spent along the way. Since she refused to return with him, he beheaded her and had the priest and her friends killed.
Centuries later, the relics of the four martyrs were rediscovered in a town called Gheel and reports went around that prayers for Dymphna’s intercession resulted in the healing of the mentally ill.
The village of Gheel miraculously dedicated itself to the healing and help of the mentally ill. A hospital for those afflicted was even started there in the 13th century. As this hospital became overcrowded, the people of Gheel opened up their houses to those suffering from mental illness and accepted them as members of their family. The afflicted were given work as a way to help them on their journey of healing. This custom continues to this day.
St. Christina the Astonishing was also from Belgium and lived in the 12th century. She was orphaned at the age of 15. At the age of 21, she had an epileptic seizure and appeared to have died. At the funeral service, she levitated to the roof of the church. The priest asked her to come down and she did.
Christina had many astonishing things happen to her during her lifetime. One was that she was said to be able to smell the stench of sin in people which caused her to run away from them and climb a tree and perch like a bird on the thinnest of branches. She would also fly up to the rafters of the church, hide in ovens or jump into fires unscathed.
She lived most of her life in rags as a homeless woman. In spite of this, she acted as the conscience for many of the people in the town she lived in including a Count whom she told, on his death bed, every sin he had ever committed. If a sinner gave her food, she would swallow the food wracked with pain and suffer for their sins. She later lived in a convent and despite her behavior was obedient to the sisters there.
Some people thought she was insane while others respected and venerated her. The story of her life is a reminder that we should treat every person, no matter their affliction, with dignity and respect.
St. Drogo was born of a noble Flemish family, but his father died before he was born and his mother died while giving birth to him. This fact devastated him throughout his life and he felt responsible for her death. He even began to practice severe penances in order to make up for this imagined sin.
At eighteen, he gave away all his belongings and renounced his estate and became a penitential pilgrim visiting several shrines throughout Europe. Later he became a shepherd and eventually a hermit. He was renowned for his charity, devotion and holiness.
Late in life, he built himself a cell against the wall of his church where he could only receive food and water from one end and watch mass from a small window on the other. He lived there for 45 years and died at 81. Drogo is said to have experienced a range of physical and emotional afflictions during his life, including a disfiguring illness that caused him to have difficulty walking and speaking, and episodes of depression and anxiety.
St. Therese of Lisieux was a Carmelite nun who lived in France in the late 19th century. She is known for her spiritual writings, including her autobiography "Story of a Soul," in which she describes her own struggles with anxiety and doubt. She wrote about feeling disconnected from God at times, and about her fears and insecurities. Despite her struggles, she remained steadfast in her faith and was able to take her need for security in relationships into her relationship with Christ.
Her father, St. Louis Martin, suffered from dementia and paranoia. He would often run away during his disorientation, so he was sent away to an asylum. He accepted this trial as a way to grow in humility.
Click here for our list of Patron Saints.
Prayers for Mental Illness
A Prayer to St. Dymphna
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. Amen.
A Prayer for the Mentally Ill
Loving God, You are always near to us, especially when we are weak, suffering and vulnerable.
Reach out to those who experience mental illness. Lift their burdens, calm their anxiety, and quiet their fears. Surround them with your healing presence that they may know that they are not alone. We ask this through the intercession of St. Christina the Astonishing and in the name of your Son, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
Prayer For Those Suffering Mental Illness
Loving God, we pray today for those who are confronted by the sadness, ambiguity and confusion of mental illness, and for those upon whom they depend for attention and compassionate care. Look with mercy on all whose afflictions bring them weakness, distress, confusion or isolation.
Provide for them homes of dignity and peace; give to them understanding helpers and the willingness to accept help. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Related Patron Saint Jewelry and Rosaries
Buy some beautiful St. Dymphna, St. Christina, St. Drogo and St. Therese of Lisieux jewelry to keep you or your loved one close to the patron saint of mental illness and be a symbol of your faith.