St. Abigail, more commonly known as St. Gobnait or Deborah, was a medieval Irish saint born around the 6th century in County Clare, Ireland.

According to tradition, Abigail ran away from home to settle on Inis Oirr in the Aran Islands.

An angel appeared to Abigail and told her this was not her place of resurrection. The angel told Abigail this place would be marked with the presence of nine white deer.

Abigail set off in search for the deer throughout the southern coastal counties.

She finally found the herd of deer in Ballyvourney, County Cork, now known as St. Gobnet’s Wood.

Abigail spent the rest of her earthly life dedicated to pastoral service and Christian charitable work. Her brother, St. Abban is believed to have joined her to help set the foundation for a convent, placing Abigail as its mother superior.

According to early Celtic folklore and religious symbolism, the soul departs from the body in the form of a bee or butterfly. So, it is not surprising that, given her deep Christian faith and belief in the Resurrection, Abigail also became a beekeeper.

She developed a powerful relationship with the bees and would use their honey to treat illnesses and heal wounds.

She became known for her miracles in rousting bees from their hives and using them to chase off evil.

Abigail remained settled in Ballyvourney until her death where she was then buried “to await her resurrection.”

St. Abigail is the patron saint of honeybees and beekeepers.

Her feast day is celebrated on February 11.

To learn more about St. Abigail: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=7725

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