Barrett/Scottish Saints/St. Bees

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Dom Michael Barrett

October 31 – St. Bees or Begha, Virgin, A.D. (about) 660.

This saint was of royal Irish race. In her youth she was promised in marriage to a Norwegian prince, but as she had vowed virginity in her earliest years she fled from home to escape the force which might possibly be brought to bear upon her to bring about the proposed union. Embarking alone in a small boat, she made her way to the opposite coast of Northumbria. Here she dwelt for some time in a woodland retreat, after receiving the monastic habit from St. Aidan, the bishop. She afterwards presided over a community of virgins, whose government she eventually resigned to St. Hilda. St. Begha founded another monastery in Strathclyde, which was known by her name. The tongue of land on which it stood is still called St. Bee's Head.

In this retreat she died in the odour of sanctity. Kilbagie, in Clackmannan, is probably named after this saint, and also Kilbucho (Church of Begha), in the parish of Broughton, Peebleshire.

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