MASSILLON -- Danielle Kellams wasn't sure who St. Dymphna was last November, when she attended a celebrity dance competition fundraiser in her home state of Fort Wayne, Indiana where someone handed her a medal of the saint.
A successful businesswoman, she had no idea how important the moment would later become.
Dymphna is the patron saint for those suffering from mental conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, ADHD and bipolar disorder. The event Kellams was supporting was a benefit for the Carriage House -- a place for those recovering from mental illness.
Kellams was among roughly 200 people from around the country who traveled here Monday to recognize the feast day of St. Dymphna at the national shrine in St. Mary Catholic Church. A new statue had arrived Monday morning, hours before a 2 p.m. Mass was celebrated.
The St. Dymphna shrine was destroyed in an August 2015 fire, and Monday's ceremony also included a blessing of the new statue, which was placed in the church.
Kellams made the more than three-hour drive with three friends.
"I am finding out more and more people have mental illness than not," she said. "People are opening up and being honest and we are seeing others -- friends, family members -- that are suffering."
'She's been watching me'
When Kellams received the St. Dymphna medal, she used the gift daily in prayer. Now she questions if being given the medal was a mere coincidence.
Earlier this year, Kellams suffered a mental breakdown that she said was debilitating. Her pilgrimage to Massillon, she said, helps to shine a light on mental illness.
"She's been watching me," Kellams said with a smile. "She was put in my life for a reason."
Kellams and her friends said they could feel the healing and Dymphna's intercession as they prayed with those who had gathered.
Before the veneration and novena began, church officials lifted the new statue of St. Dymphna, that had arrived from Peru, into its new home. Cradled by the light shining into the church through a stained glass window on the west side of the nave, the shrine provides a place for quiet prayer.
At the time of the fire, the national shrine was housed in the baptistery in front of the church.
A relic, which was not damaged in the fire, is at the foot of the statue along with a chain. A crown will be lifted onto the head of the statue in the coming weeks.
The shrine was constructed more than 75 years ago by the Rev. Austin Skully to help patients at the state psychiatric hospital, which is now Heartland Behavioral Healthcare, according to a 2013 Independent article.
In 2012, the votive shrine relocated to St. Mary from Heartland property and a permanent shrine was planned. Since its move, St. Mary has hosted countless numbers of people seeking strength to fight internal battles.
According to www.natlshrinestdymphna.org, Dymphna was 14 when her mother died in the seventh century and her father, a pagan king, is said to have been afflicted with mental illness brought on by his grief. He had the idea to marry his daughter and Dymphna fled. When she refused to return to Ireland with her father, he cut off her head with his sword.
Testimonials and claimed miracles credit St. Dymphna for unexplained healings. People write letters, email and call with prayers -- or petitions -- for themselves and loved ones. Hundreds of candles surround the saint in the shrine, which may be lit by those seeking comfort and help.
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