As with many saints from whom I descend, the family of Saint Begga is rife with other saints, both ancestrally and among their descendants. I am fervently praying that some of this sanctity will rub off on me! Begga's mother was Saint Itta (Saint Ida) and her older sister was Saint Gertrude of Nivelle. Mother and sister established a monastery of Benedictine nuns at Nivelles, which is now in Belgium. Saint Gertrude was Abbess. She is the patron saint of travelers, gardeners and cats. If you have a rat infestation, she's the saint to call upon, and she is also invoked for intercession in cases of mental illness. Gertrude died at a young age, no doubt due to illnesses induced by exhaustion from too rigorous a program of austerities such as long vigils and short rations. This aspect of a saint's life has no appeal for me whatsoever. I would like to live for a long time so I have a chance to make up for all the mistakes in the early years, before I became a Christian and when I was lost in my sin.
Begga also married into a saintly family when she took Ansegise as husband, who was the son of Saint Arnulf (sometimes "Arnoul" or "Arnold," depending on the language of the person referring to him.)
Begga's son, Pepin of Herstal, was the founder of the Carolingian dynasty of the rulers of France, also my ancestors.
When her husband was killed by his enemy Gundewin during a feud, Begga made a pilgrimage to Rome, then took the veil, rapidly founded seven churches and built a convent at Andenne on the Meuse River. Her sister supplied her with a small number of nuns who laid the foundation of the monastic observance in that institution. Begga was abbess there for the rest of her life, dying in 693 at the age of 78, which was quite an advanced age at that time. The Monastery was thereafter converted into a "collegiate church" of thirty two canonesses from the noble families. According to the definitions I have been able to find, a "collegiate church" is a church in which the daily office and worship is maintained by a college of canons. It is a lay institution presided over by a dean or provost. I will have to research it some more because it doesn't sound quite Catholic, does it?
Saint Begga has two feast days: September 6 and December 17. Some people attribute the founding of the Beguines to Saint Begga, but this is almost certainly myth. The Beguines are thought to have gotten their name from Father Lambert le Begue, whose protection they enjoyed.
LINKS TO SOURCES
National Society of Saints and Sinners
Saints and Blesseds who Left Descendants
Find a Grave Memorial Page
Satues - Hither & Thither
Emerson Kent - World History for the Relaxed Historian
Silver "Rose" Parnell
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