Born: 7th Century Ireland
Feast Day: 6th September (October 31st and November 13th in some calendars)
Shrine: St Bees Priory, Cumbria
Also Known As: Bee, Bees, Begga, Begh, Begha
Saint Bega was born into Irish royalty and was allegedly extremely beautiful. Her family arranged a marriage for her to the Prince of Norway, but Bega wanted to devote her life to Christ so refused the marriage and fled. Stories tell of her being carried across the sea to Cumbria by riding on a clod of earth, having received a special bracelet marked with the sign of the Cross from an angel. She is said to have lived a life of solitude practising penance and prayer and being fed by the birds in the woods. Saint Oswald of Northumbria convinced her to join a convent for her own safety which she agreed to and received the veil from St Aidan, Bishop of Northumbria and travelled the district preaching.
Bega is said to have founded a monastery known as St Bees. and was the abbess, where she was known for her generosity to the poor and oppressed. There are many miracles associated with Bega including the “snow miracle’ which has two versions. In the first Bega was promised land for her monastery but some was unfairly claimed by neighbouring estates. However, on the day Bega was due to take ownership, snow fell on all the area except for the land originally promised to Bega. It was decided that it was God’s will for her to have the original land from then on. The second version states that Bega asked for the land from the owner who said laughing that she could only have the land covered in snow the next morning (this was summer). The next morning the land Bega wanted was covered in snow and the owner kept his promise.
Other events are said to have happened like a young man who stole a horse from the convent grounds thinking “what could Bega do to me”, within a few paces arrows came from nowhere and he had his retribution, another story is that a neighbouring wealthy landowner allowed his horses to feed off the grounds of the convent while he pretended he didn’t see them. The horses came under a strange influence and the owner gave land to the convent after he repented.
After her death, many miracles are said to have occurred in the convent including healing of the sick, restoring of sight to the blind etc.