Bones of a Teenage Saint Are in Ohio

Written by Anne Marie Ward
Art by marek kizer on Unsplash

cw: reference to sexual abuse

“Lord, our God, you graciously chose St. Dymphna as patroness of those afflicted with mental and nervous disorders. She is thus an inspiration and a symbol of charity to the thousands who ask her intercession.

“Please grant, Lord, through the prayers of this pure youthful martyr, relief and consolation to all suffering such trials, and especially those for whom we pray: [Here mention those for whom you wish to pray].

“We beg you, Lord, to hear the prayers of St. Dymphna on our behalf. Grant all those for whom we pray patience in their sufferings and resignation to your divine will. Please fill them with hope, and grant them the relief and cure they so much desire.

“We ask this through Christ our Lord who suffered agony in the garden. Amen.”

Saint Dymphna Prayer, found on

In Catholic iconography, Saint Dymphna is casually gorgeous. Often depicted wearing a rosewood babushka with white lilies cradled in her arms, or occasionally a small medieval crown alluding to her noble lineage, she has the delicacy of an old-Hollywood beauty, always wreathed in a bright halo. Dymphna is blonde, a type like a Tuesday Weld, a Dorothy Malone, an Ann-Margaret. Dymphna is startlingly pretty, upsettingly pretty. Her complexion is warm and luxurious: golden and rosy and peachy cream pressed against a whole rolling field of the lilies she holds to her chest or flanked wide by a sapphire sky of dazzling stars. One could easily forget, based on these artistic depictions, that her father beheaded her by sword when she was 15 years old for refusing to fuck him. One could be forgiven for forgetting or not guessing that she was a teenage sexual abuse and murder victim. She probably did not look like Tuesday Weld, but it wouldn’t matter if she did, because she was 15 and beheaded. God. Today, you can pray to her bones, relics, in the National Shrine of St. Dymphna in Massillon, Ohio, the patron saint of those affected by nervous disorders.