St. Bega (other forms of her name are Begh and Bee) is said to have been Irish, though it is not clear whether she lived in the eighth or ninth century. In any case she was a virgin who led a holy life in north-western England. The legend says that she was an Irish princess, the most beautiful in her kingdom, who fled from her native land to avoid marriage with a pagan Viking—a Norwegian prince. Guided by an angel, Bega refused a pagan husband, as she wanted to devote her life to the Heavenly Bridegroom—Christ. Having crossed the Irish Sea and survived shipwreck, she was thrown ashore in the area to the south of the present-day Cumbrian town of Whitehaven in Copeland (in the north-west of England). Seeing in this a sign from God, Bega settled there in solitude and for many years lived as an anchoress.
For many years the bracelet of St. Bega was kept at her convent and it was said that it had been given her by an angel in Ireland: numerous miracles happened near this relic. In the Middle Ages there was a custom to take oaths on the bracelet (this practice still existed in the thirteenth century).
Formerly many more churches were dedicated to St. Bega in the north of England and Scotland, for example, in the hamlet of Ennerdale (near the lake by the same name) in Cumbria, in the hamlet of Kilbucho in the Scottish Borders area of Scotland (where the ruins of an early church and a holy well of St. Bega still exist) and on the island of Little Cumbrae (whose name means “the church of a female saint”) in the Firth of Clyde in North Ayrshire. Bega is also the patron-saint of Kilbagie (Fife) and Kilbegie (Argyll and Bute) in Scotland, where monasteries were dedicated to her.
Holy Virgin and Anchoress Bega, pray to God for us!