Gheel, Belgium

Town where a colony of lunatics has existed for centuries. Miraculous cures effected at the shrine of Saint Dympna, martyred at Gheel, drew many seeking her intercession. The peasants in the neighborhood undertook their care, and sometimes as many as 1,500 live in the homes of the inhabitants, where they share in the labors of the family and are treated kindly by them. This method of private persons caring for the harmless insane who are able to work is called the Gheel system. Communities of Norbertine, Augustinian, and Annunciation Sisters aid in the care of the sick and a hospital has been established for scientific treatment.

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