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Bega (Bee), St.


Irish saint, sixth and seventh centuries. Although nothing certain is known of her life, legend says that she was a daughter of an Irish king, and that, having vowed virginity, she fled Ireland rather than marry a son of the king of Norway. Her name was early corrupted to Bee. She is thought to have been the founder (c. 650) of St. Bees in Cumberland, England, a cell later belonging to St. Mary's York. This and other indications of the presence of her cult in the northwest of England (e.g., the name of the town and headland, St. Bees) are evidence of early Irish influence in that area. Through the centuries her life became confused with that of Heiu of Hartlepool, the first Northumbrian woman to take the veil, receiving it from aidan of lindisfarne (d. 651). Heiu founded the monastery of Hartlepool, which was later taken over by hilda of whitby. Both Bee and Heiu must be distinguished from St. Begu, an Anglo-Saxon nun who died on Oct. 31, 681, and whose feast is Sept. 6 or Oct. 10. Begu was a nun at Hackness in Northumbria, one of the houses under Hilda, and, according to bede (Eccl. Hist. 3, 4), it was Begu who had the vision of the soul of St. Hilda being received into heaven.

Feast: Sept. 6 or Oct. 31.

Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum Sept. 2:694700. c. cotton, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 7:423424, 449450. a. m. zimmermann, Kalendarium Benedictinum, (Metten 193338) 3:1921. j. l. baudot and l. chaussin, Vies des saints et des bienhereux selon l'ordre du calendrier avec l'historique des fêtes (Paris 193556) 10:101213. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 3:498.

[e. john]

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