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Geel (khāl) [key], commune (1991 pop. 32,487), Antwerp prov., N Belgium. It is famous for its large colony of mentally disabled persons, who live with private families rather than in institutions. The tradition of the town centers on St. Dymphna, a 6th-century Irish virgin martyr at whose shrine demoniacs are said to have been cured. The colony dates from the 14th cent. Located in Geel are a 17th-century town hall and a 16th-century church. The name is sometimes spelled Gheel.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: Benelux Political Geography

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