Saint of the Day – 11 February – Saint Gobnata (6th Century) Abbess, Founder of a Convent and ‘Order’ of Sisters, miracle-worker, Apostle of the sick. Patronage – of bees, beekeepers. Also known as – Abigail, Albina, Deborah, Gobnat, Gobnet, Gobnait.
Gobnait was born in County Clare in the 5th or 6th Century and is said to have been the sister of Saint Abban. She fled a family feud, taking refuge in Inis Óir in the Aran Islands. Here an Angel appeared and told her that this was “not the place of her resurrection” and that she should look for a place where she would find nine white deer grazing. She found the deer at the place now known as St.Gobnet’s Wood. Saint Abban is said to have worked with her on the foundation of the Convent and to have placed Saint Gobnait over it as Abbess.
Gobnait is said to have added beekeeping to her life’s work, developing a lifelong affinity with them. She started a religious Order and dedicated her days to helping the sick. It has been speculated that she used honey as a medicinal aid. She is credited with being the intercessor who assisted and saved the people at Ballyvourney from the plague.
One story tells of how she drove off a brigand by sending a swarm of bees after him and making him restore the cattle he had stolen.
St Gobnait’s well (also known as St Debora’s, Deriola’s or Abigail’s well) is situated to the North of Ballyagran in a high field to the left of the road to Castletown. Pilgrimages have consistently, throughout the Centuries, been held to the well. The well has now dried up but the site is still known. It is said that a white dder or stag is sometimes seen at the well.
In 1601 Pope Clement VIII granted a special indulgence to those who, on Gobnata’s feast day, visited the Parish Church, went to Confession and Communion and who prayed for peace among ‘Christian princes’, the expulsion of heresy and the exaltation of the Church.