Begha (DNB00)

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BEGHA, also called BEG, BEGGA, and BEGAGH (d. 660?), saint, was an Irish virgin of royal birth. To avoid being given in marriage against her will, she fled to Scotland, where she received the veil at the hands of Aidan, and afterwards became the first abbess of nuns in England in the reign of king Oswald. Her chief foundation, however (circ. 656), was in the kingdom of Strathclyde, at the spot on the sea-coast which, under the designation of St. Bees, still preserves the memory of her name. A priory was afterwards founded here by William de Meschines, lord of Copeland temp. Henry I. In her old age Begha resigned her abbacy in Oswald's Kingdom into the hands of St. Hilda, under whose rule she lived till her death, the year of which cannot be fixed, but her festival was kept on 31 Oct.

[Bolland. Acta SS. Sept., ii. 694; Faber's Life of St. Bega, 1844; Montalembert's Monks of the West, iv. 58-9, v. 248-52; Forbes's Cal. of Scotch Saints; Tomlinson's Vita S. Begæ in Carlisle Hist. Tracts.]

W. R. W. S.