Saint Bega


Saint Bega

"Note: There is a similarly named Saint Begga not to be confused with Saint Bega."

St. Bega also known as St. Bee was reputedly a Dark Ages' saint of what is now north-west England, the area at the time being part of the Celtic kingdom of Rheged.cn|date=February 2008

She was supposedly an Irish king's daughter [Bartlett, Robert. "Britain and Ireland, 900-1300: Insular Responses to Medieval European Change". (Cambridge, England): Cambridge University Press, 1999. p. 71.] who valued virginity. She was said to be promised in marriage to a Viking prince who, according to a medieval manuscript, was "son of the king of Norway". Bega "fled across the Irish sea to land at what in now called St. Bees, a remote spot on the Cumbrian coast. There she settled for a time, leading a life of exemplary piety. Then, fearing the raids of pirates which were starting along the coast, she moved over to Northumbria."

She was associated in legend with a number of miracles, the most famous being the "Snow miracle"::"Ranulf le Meschin ("sic") had endowed the monastery with its lands, but a lawsuit later developed about their extent. The monks feared a miscarriage of justice. The day appointed for a perambulation of the boundaries arrived - and, lo and behold, there was a thick snowfall on all the surrounding lands but not a flake upon the lands of the priory."

The Venerable Bede and the author of a derivative thirteenth-century account both identified St Bega as the abbess of Hartlepool and as a real-life person who supposedly flourished in the late 7th Century AD. Melvyn Bragg wrote the novel "Credo" based on her life as accounted by these sources. However, the dates given by Bede do not appear to be consistent with the dates normally assumed for the founder of the community at St. Bees - for which the most likely date is about 850 AD.

:"The discovery of inconsistencies between these medieval texts, coupled with the significance attached to her jewellery (said to have been left in Cumbria on her departure for the north-east), now indicate that the abbess never existed. ... More plausible is the suggestion that St Bega was the personification of a Cumbrian cult centred on ‘her’ bracelet (Old English: beag)." [ [http://www.oxforddnb.com/public/themes/92/92732.html Myth, legend, and mystery in the Oxford DNB, Philip Carter ] ]

The latest edition of the Dictionary of National Biography includes an article (by Professor Robert Bartlett) that treats St Bega only as a mythical figure. Most of those Christians who still venerate St Bega/St Bee disagree with this interpretation.

The name Kilbucho in Scotland is also a dedication to her.

References


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