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St. Begu
(Died AD 660)

St. Begu, having dedicated her virginity to the Lord for thirty years and more, served him in monastic conversation in the nunnery of Hackness, built by St. Hilda shortly before her death. On 17th November AD 680, Begu was sleeping in the dormitory with the other sisters. She suddenly heard the bell that called them to prayer when a soul was passing away. Immediately, she saw the roof of the house open. A bright light filled the sky and, in that light, the maid of God, Hilda, was borne to heaven by angels. Begu arose, found the sisters all at asleep and knew that she had seen a vision. Running to Frigyth, who ruled in the absence of the Abbess Hilda, she told her that their dear mother had, that moment, departed from the earth. They all arose and prayed for the soul of the blessed abbess until, at dawn, some monks arrived to tell them of her death. Begu lived on at Hackness Priory for another twenty years, before dying there on 31st October AD 660.

Around 1125, the monks of Whitby Abbey were seeking holy relics to replace those of Hilda, which had been translated to Glastonbury after the Viking raids of the 10th century had left their monastery in ruins. Few people seemed to be interested in St. Caedmon who they retained. Through a supposed revelation, a sarcophagus was uncovered at Harkness bearing the inscription Hoc est sepulchrum Begu. Its contents were transferred to Whitby, where miracles were soon being reported.

Some writers - including a monk of St. Bees in Cumberland who wrote an account of her translation - identify her with St. Bega of Egremont. Others with St. Heiu, Hilda's predecessor at Hartlepool. They seem, however, to be three distinct persons.

Partly edited from Agnes Dunbar's "A Dictionary of Saintly Women" (1904).


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