Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume IX: September. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Bega, or Bees, of Ireland, Virgin
SHE was a holy Irish virgin, who flourished about the middle of the seventh century, led an anchoretical life, and afterwards founded a nunnery in Copeland, near Carlisle. Her shrine was kept there after her death, and became famous for pilgrims.1 There is in Scotland a place called Kilbees from her name, according to a note of Th. Innes on the manuscript calendar kept in the Scotch College of Paris. See Alford, Annal. t. 2, p. 294, Monast. Anglic. Suysken, t. 2, Sept. p. 694, &c.
Note 1. According to Alford and Suysken, St. Bees was the same with St. Heyne or Hieu, who was the first nun in Northumberland, and received the veil from St. Aidun; having founded a monastery at Heorthu, she appointed St. Hilda abbess, and retired to Tadcaster, where she died about the year 650. She is honoured on the 22nd of November under the name of St. Bees. Bede calls her Hieu. The inhabitants of the islands near Cumberland had then a frequent intercourse with Ireland, took wives from thence, and were themselves many of them originally Irish. Amongst the monasteries founded by St. Bega, are those of Copeland, Heorthu, and Hartlepole. This last was seven miles from the mouth of the Tees, and probably at Heortnesse a promontory in the diocess of Durham. She quitted this place and built for herself a cell at Calcaria, which Bede says was called Helcacester by the Saxons. Camden thinks it is the present Tadcaster. If we are to believe the author of the Monast. Anglic. and Mabillon, t. 1, Annal. p. 436, she left Calcaria, and retired to the monastery of Hacanos, within three miles of Scarborough, where she died. Bede makes no mention of this last migration; he only says, that after being replaced by St. Hilda at Heorthu, she founded a monastery amongst the Hacani, thirteen miles distant from that of Streneschalt or Whitby. The Began whom Bede places at Hacanos upon the death of St. Hilda, and who had then served God in the monastic state for more than thirty years, seems to be different from St. Bees, as St. Aidan died one hundred years before her. We must therefore conclude that our saint died at Calcaria. Her body was afterwards removed to Whitby, according to the Aberdeen Breviary. She died about the middle of the seventh age. [back]