Monday 10 February 2014

Saint Bega, Daughter of Gabhran, February 10

Canon O'Hanlon has an entry for an early female saint, Bega, daughter of Gabhran on February 10. She appears to be a distinct individual from the Saint Bega whom the English commemorate as Saint Bees, but when and where she flourished is open to question. The seventeenth-century hagiologist, Colgan, reckoned she was one of the early nuns mentioned in the Tripartite Life of Saint Patrick and placed her in Meath, whereas the 19th-century antiquarian, W.F. Wakeman, located her in County Leitrim:

St. Becga, or Bega, Virgin, and Daughter of Gabhran

[Probably in the Fifth Century.]

The name of, Becga, the daughter of Gabhrain, is entered in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 10th of February. Great difficulty exists in the identification of this holy virgin, and the place with which she was connected. According to the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, when the Irish Apostle was in the eastern part of Meath, where he baptized many persons, in the font of a church, called Teglaisreann, he there left two of his disciples; one of these was named Bega, a virgin, and the other is called Lugadius, a priest. Near the gates of the church was a fountain, and at the northern side was a place of interment, which had been called after the holy virgin, Feart Bige, or the "Sepulchre of Bega." In the neighbourhood of this church, and towards the south, another church, called Imleach Sescainn, was built, on the margin of Lough Annenn. There, St. Patrick left one of his disciples, called Moluanus Peregrinus, who was of British extraction. It is thought, by Colgan, that the St. Bega, just mentioned, must be identical with the holy virgin, whose name occurs in our calendars, at the present date. Maguire also enters her, in his Martyrology. Other opinions have been advanced, however, regarding this virgin and her locality. Thus, William F. Wakeman, in his interesting and elegantly written guide book, thinks St. Bega or Becga may have been connected with a townland called Killybeg—recte, Caille Bega—in the northern part of Leitrim County. Again, we read, as set down in the Martyrology of Donegal, that Becga, virgin, daughter of Gabhran, had a festival celebrated on this day. Her name is Latinized Begga, in the table postfixed to this Martyrology. If the previous part of the narrative have reference to the virgin, who is venerated in our calendars at this date, she was probably one of those holy women, who had been veiled by St. Patrick; and, therefore she cannot be identified with another pious follower of Christ, who is commemorated in the English Calendars, and who is nevertheless regarded as an Irishwoman, called St. Bega, or, by the English known as St, Bees. The whole history of St. Becga or Bega is, however, involved in great obscurity.

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1 comment:

Seán said...

Congrats on this never-ending info re those saints!
The link hereunder, re Christianity and saints in the Slieveardagh area on the Tipp/Kilkenny border, may be of interest?