Patroness of Those Who Suffer With Nervous and Mental Afflictions

There is a place in Belgium called Geel with a special community practice toward the mentally ill faithful. So many pilgrims flock to the site for the healing of mental afflictions that extra housing had to be built. When that overflowed, patients were taken into the homes of townspeople, a tradition that continues to this day. The “boarders,” as they are called, are treated as members of the town, and do simple labor in the community, as their afflictions allow. Some stay only a few months, others settle there permanently. The success of the Geel program is studied to this day.

The pilgrimage is made to Geel because of a young girl named Dymphna, patron Saint of runaways, psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, those suffering mental illness, and survivors of sexual, emotional, and/or physical abuse, especially that which has been perpetrated by family members.

St. Dymphna, 2016St. Dymphna, after a prayer card. From the 2016 series.

Dymphna was born in Ireland in the 7th century to a devout Christian mother and a pagan father. When she was 14 years old, she consecrated her life to Christ and took a vow of chastity.
According to her legend, it was around this time that her mother died, and her father made plans to marry again- and to make Dymphna his new bride. When she learned of her father’s plans, she escaped her home with the help of a priest named Gerebran. They sailed for what is now Belgium. Hiding in Geel, Dymphna used her wealth to build a hospital for the destitute.
Within a year, her father tracked her down in Geel. He had Gerebran beheaded and insisted Dymphna return to Ireland and marry him. She refused. Her father murdered her as well, cutting off her head. She was 15.

Gerebran and Dymphna’s remains were gathered and laid to rest in a cave in Geel. (They’ve since been moved to church reliquaries.) In the 1300’s, both Dymphna and Gerebran were sainted, and in 1349, a church was built in Geel in honor of St. Dymphna.

Prayer for 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.

Jay, Mike. “The Geel Question.” Aeon. 09 Jan. 2014. 10 Oct. 2016
Kirsch, Johann Peter. “St. Dymphna.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 09 October 2016
Citing this page:

Solomon, Alana. “Patroness of Those Who Suffer With Nervous and Mental Afflictions.” Ortolana Studio & Press. Ortolana Studio & Press, 15 May. 2017. Web.


And All Manner of Things Shall Be Well

May 13th is the Feast Day of Julian of Norwich: 14th century mystic, theologian, anchoress, and author of the first English language book known to have been written by a woman.

An anchoress was a hermit of a sort, confined to an enclosure: often merely a cell, or at most a tiny cottage with a tiny solitary enclosed garden. By the Middle Ages, a Rule of Life had been developed for the anchoress (there were anchorites, but it was primarily a practice of women), and the cell was typically attached to a parish church. The structure would include a tiny window for hearing the Mass and receiving communion, as well as another window to communicate with an assistant and speak with members the community who may visit for advice and prayers.

AnchoressThe Enclosure of an Anchoress

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By Means of That Flesh We Draw Milk

The feast day of St. Catherine of Siena is April 29th. I consider her my Patron Saint, the woman who helped bring me to the Church.

St. Catherine of Siena, rose

From one of my very favorite books, Caroline Walker Bynum’s Holy Feast and Holy Fast:

“The various accounts of Catherine’s life all stress her Eucharistic devotion. Like other fasting women, Catherine substituted frequent Communion for ordinary eating, although she encountered criticism for this from confessors, family, and her fellow tertiaries. Like Margaret of Cortona, she detected an unconsecrated host, yet also like Margaret she revered priests passionately for their ability to celebrate Mass.”

St. Catherine of Siena, orange profile

“(Biographer) Raymond (of Capua) recounts her ecstasies, trances, frenzies, bleedings, and tears at the Eucharist, and he associates her cravings for Christ’s blood, like her drinking of (a patient’s) pus, with a nursing Christ.”

St. Catherine of Siena, red stripe

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To Worthily Receive

The month of April is dedicated in a special way to the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Spirit.

eucharist-pray-to-worthily-receive-jesus-christ-morning-and-evening-prayer-dispose-our-heart-to-the-action-of-grace(Vintage prayer card from the sadly defunct website, Holy Card Heaven.)

“Pray to worthily receive Jesus Christ. Morning and evening prayer dispose our heart to the action of Grace.”

Our Parish has a 24-hour Adoration once a week, Friday overnight into Saturday. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to continue during the new school quarter, but I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to attend at very, very early hours throughout Lent.. I hope to continue on a regular basis, even if I have to change to a later schedule. If you’ve ever considered the practice, I highly recommend it.

Citing this page:
Solomon, Alana. “To Worthily Receive..” Ortolana Studio & Press. Ortolana Studio & Press, 8 Apr. 2017.

All Covered with Blood and Wounds

This post is in honor of Our Sorrowful Mother, whose feast is observed both September 15th as well as the Friday before Good Friday.

Left: After the statue of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows in the church of San Miguel.
Right: After the statue of Our Lady of Seven Dolours in the church of Santa Cruz in Madrid, Spain. From the 2016 series.

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“The traditional commonplace scandalizes modern man. The most subversive book in our time would be a compendium of proverbs.”

For the last few days I have been perusing a website dedicated to posting English translations of the aphorisms of Colombian philosopher Nicolás Gómez Dávila (aka “Don Colacho”).


While we would not see eye-to-eye on all matters, I have very much enjoyed his way with words and the consideration of his views. (His wicked sense of humor helps.) From this piece on his life:

“His work is very quotable, since it consists almost entirely of one-to-four-line sentences, which their author called ‘annotations on the margins of an implicit text,’ an opus magnum that has disintegrated into glosses. Gómez Dávila himself said that he worked half his life an his notes, until only the essence remained: ‘The writer who has not tortured his sentences tortures his reader.'”

The blog linked above has done a great job of posting and categorizing the quotes, and I have included the numbers here so that one can look up the quotes in their original Spanish on that page.  

There are many, many more quotes at the source page, but without further ado, enjoy a few of  my favorites:

Continue reading ““The traditional commonplace scandalizes modern man. The most subversive book in our time would be a compendium of proverbs.””

The Song of Bernadette (1943)

The Song of Bernadette (1943) is, of course, the story of St. Bernadette and her visions at Lourdes. Cinematically it is absolutely gorgeous- in fact, this was the film which moved me to include stills as part of this series.

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It should be noted that The Song of Bernadette was adapted from Franz Werfel’s book of the same name, which is itself a dramatized interpretation of the events surrounding the life of St. Bernadette and the Marian apparitions. (You can read a little about the discrepancies in the wikipedia article.) Still, I certainly recommend it. Bonus: A young Vincent Price plays a supporting character.

Here is a link to the full film. As always, if you have access to a local video store which carries such rare gems, please support them. Not only is it the right thing to do, but the image quality will be much better than a youtube video!

And by the way- this post is in honor of the feast day of St. Bernadette, which is April 16th. However, since this year it falls on Easter, I am posting this on one of her alternate feast-days: February 18th, the day her Lady promised to give her happiness- not in this life, but in the next. xo

Citing this page:
Solomon, Alana. “The Song of Bernadette (1943).” Ortolana Studio & Press. Ortolana Studio & Press, 7 May. 2017.

You See My Heart

This post is in honor of the Feast Day of St. Agatha. Due to the conditions of her imprisonment and the nature of her tortures- her legend includes the excision of her breasts- she is the patron Saint of rape and sexual assault survivors, as well as bakers, nurses, and those afflicted by breast cancer.

St. Agatha, 2016St. Agatha, after a Renaissance-era painting, original artist unknown.
From the 2016 series.

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Nativity of Our Lord

Merry Christmas everyone!

Words from Pope Benedict:

“The question is: Is the humanity of our time still waiting for a Savior? One has the feeling that many consider God as foreign to their own interests. Apparently, they do not need him. They live as though he did not exist and, worse still, as though he were an “obstacle” to remove in order to fulfill themselves. Even among believers—we are sure of it—some let themselves be attracted by enticing dreams and distracted by misleading doctrines that suggest deceptive shortcuts to happiness. Yet, despite its contradictions, worries and tragedies, and perhaps precisely because of them, humanity today seeks a path of renewal, of salvation, it seeks a Savior and awaits, sometimes unconsciously, the coming of the Savior who renews the world and our life, the coming of Christ, the one true Redeemer of man and of the whole of man.”

mary-and-child-jesus-aqua-smallThe Blessed Virgin Mary and the Christ Child, after an icon.
From the 2016 series.

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