St Dymphna. The Tragedy of an Irish Princess.

Painting of four figures in long medieval dress standing on the edge of a river
Goossen Van der Weyden (1455–1543), Dymphna and her Companions about to Embark, ca 1505. © The Phoebus Foundation, Antwerp

28 January - 28 May 2023 
Grand Gallery | Admission free

In 2016, the Phoebus Foundation in Belgium undertook a large-scale restoration project focusing on an altarpiece triptych in their collection by Goossen van der Weyden (1455-1543). Dymphna - a legendary 6th or 7th century Irish saint was the daughter of a Celtic king. When Dymphna grew to resemble her mother, her widowed father decided to marry her. To escape his incestuous intentions, Dymphna fled Ireland for Geel in Belgium, with her confessor Gerebernus. Dymphna’s father pursued and killed them, and their bodies were buried on the spot by angels. The Church of St Dymphna in Geel, consecrated in 1247, still holds relics associated with the saint. The altarpiece featuring scenes from the life of St Dymphna is the only work of its kind to focus on the life of an Irish saint.

Curator: Dr Brendan Rooney & Dr Lizzie Marx 

This exhibition has been organised in partnership with The Phoebus Foundation, Antwerp.

Saint Dymphna

Discover more about the altarpiece


Also coming in 2023: