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April 19, 2024

Saint Dymphna: The True Trail of Gold

April 19, 2024
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A Village Mentality

To the rest of the world, Geel didn’t matter. It was like any other village in Belgium or, for that matter, any village in Europe. There was a church; there was a market; and there was an inn where the locals would sit and gossip. Their gossip was on the same topics as many other villages’ gossip – weather, news, and each other. But soon, Geel would be changed forever, becoming famous for the care it provided for those in need. It was all thanks to the care first shown by one girl – Dymphna, the Lily of Ériu.

A Strange Company

Into that tiny village inn one evening came four strangers from a distant island – a jester, his wife, a priest, and a mysterious girl. Dymphna, the girl, paid well and up-front with gold coins - good enough for Louis, the innkeeper. He had enough trouble on his hands. His daughter, Mila, had grown silent since her mother’s passing. 

As Dymphna and her company settled into Geel, she and Father Gerebrand began performing charitable works throughout Geel. Mila, the innkeeper’s daughter, soon grew attached to Dymphna. Thanks to an accident, she also discovered that Dymphna wasn’t just any Gael – she was a princess. She had fled Ériu when her father, mad with grief from his wife’s passing, tried to marry Dymphna, his own daughter. Alongside Colman the Jester, his wife Maeve, and Father Gerebrand, she had crossed the North Sea and escaped into the continent.

The Church of Saint Dymphna, Geel, Belgium.

The Secret Revealed

Mila’s discovery did not remain secret for long. Another Gaelic stranger soon arrived – this one far more menacing than the four kind ones from before. He shared his name and purpose quickly: Damon, a Gaelic king in search of his daughter. Damon had followed a “trail of gold:'' gold coins, spent by Dymphna and her companions along their way to Geel. Terrified, Mila ran to warn Dymphna, but it was too late. Dymphna was discovered by Damon and martyred when she once again refused to marry him. 

Dymphna’s story soon spread. In the wake of her death, the people of Geel would discover a new mission of their own. Cures of the mentally ill were attributed to her tomb, and many came from across Europe and farther away to try to seek help. Some did not receive cures, however; these were often abandoned by their families. Geel became a haven for these people – the villagers began taking strangers into their homes, caring for them and lovingly integrating them back into society.

The True Trail of Gold

This week, The Saints: Adventures of Faith and Courage is proud to share the story of Dymphna, the Lily of Ériu. Hear the story as the villagers of Geel meet Dymphna and learn to follow her along the true trail of gold: the path to Heaven. Listen first thing Monday morning at! You can also learn more about Saint Dymphna from the National Shrine of Saint Dymphna!

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