21/05/2021 - 30/11/2021

The Story of a Girl Who Drove a Medieval City Mad

Following several years of intensive research, The Phoebus Foundation has embarked on a large-scale conservation project: the magisterial St Dymphna Altar, a masterpiece by Goossen Van der Weyden, grandson of the celebrated Flemish Primitive painter Rogier Van der Weyden. Goossen created the altarpiece for Abbot Antoon Tsgrooten of the Norbertine Abbey in Tongerlo. It tells the tragic story of Dymphna, an Irish princess and patron saint of the mentally ill, who is venerated in the town of Geel, in the Kempen region of Flanders.

In the five hundred years since it was painted, the altarpiece has been cut down, neglected, vandalized, stolen and forgotten. The Phoebus Foundation recently decided to go ahead with a thorough restoration, the results of which can now be presented to the public.

In 2021 the panels were being hosted by Niguliste Museum in Tallinn (Estonia), where an interactive scenography immersed the visitor in the Irish saint’s extraordinary world. Visitors could discover the exceptional stories, forgotten for centuries, that unfolded beneath the layers of dust and dirt, while experiencing the unique history of a monumental altarpiece.

Watch the video