Bega (Beza, Beya, Begga, or Bee), St
Bega (Beza, Beya, Begga, Or Bee), St., a Cumbrian virgin of whom nothing is clearly known. According to Alban Butler (Sept. 6), she was an Irish virgin, an anchoret of the 7th century, and founded a monastery in Copeland. He also mentions a place in Scotland called Kilbees after her. According to the life of her seen by Leland (Colossians 3, 36), after founding her monastery in Cumberland, she founded another north of the Wear; then went to Hert, where she becomes identical with St. Hein, and then to Tadcaster; winding up her career at Hackness, as identical with St. Begu. The Aberdeen Breviary contains lessons for two saints, with either of whom she might be identified.
(1.) St. Bega, venerated at Dunbar, who lived on the island of Cumbria, where she was visited by St. Maura, and dying, Sept. 3, was buried on her island. The rector of Dunbar, attempting to remove her remains, was driven back by a storm.
(2.) St. Begga, an Irish princess, who, married against her will, fled to Oswald and Aidan in England, and became the first abbess of nuns in England, She lived on a desert island, and in old age resigned her abbacy to St. Hilda, under whose rule she ended her days, Oct. 31. After four hundred and sixty years her remains were removed to Whitby. Here are perhaps some reminiscences of St. Hein. She was probably a local saint of the 8th century. The monastery bearing her name was founded as a cell to St. Mary's at York, in the reign of Henry I. Under the name St. Begha she is honored at Kilbagie and Kilbucho, in Scotland; but her greatest foulndation was at St. Bee's, which takes its name from her. It was founded in A.D. 656. In treating of the Anglo-Saxon nuns, Montalembert, Monks of the West deals with the difficulties connected with St. Begha, but does not decide whether the traditions do not, really belong to two or more individuals.