Thursday, September 4, 2014


St Gobnata of Ballyvourney
Also known as Gobnet, Gobnait
St. Gobnata

Feast day: Febuary 11

Death: 6th century

Irish abbess and disciple of St. Abban. When St. Abban founded a convent in Ballyvourney, County Cork, Ireland, Gobnata was placed in charge. A well there bears her name.
Saint Gobnata was born in County Clare, Ireland;  at the end of the fifth, or the beginning of the sixth century. Later she fled to the Aran Islands to escape from some enemy. An angel appeared to her one day and told her to leave that place and to keep walking until she found nine white deer. She saw three white deer at Clondrohid, Co. Cork, and decided to follow them. Then at Ballymakeera, she saw six white deer. Finally, at Ballyvourney she came upon nine white deer grazing in a wood. There she was given land for a women’s monastery by her spiritual Father St Abban of Kilabban, Co. Laois (March 16), and he installed her as abbess. Excavations in 1951 proved that indeed there had been an early Christian settlement on the site.

St Gobnata was renowned for her gift of healing, and there is a story of how she kept the plague from Ballyvourney. She is also famous for her skill as a bee-keeper.
 Her grave in the churchyard at Ballyvourney is decorated with crutches and other evidence of cures obtained through Gobnata's intercession. Among the miracles attributed to her intercession were the staying of a pestilence by marking off the parish as sacred ground. Another tradition relates that she routed an enemy by loosing her bees upon them. Her beehive has remained a precious relic of the O'Herlihys.

One day, St Gobnata was watching from a hill overlooking a valley as an invading chieftain and his army came through, destroying crops and driving off cattle. She sent the bees to attack them, and they were thrown into such confusion that they left without their plunder.

The holy virgin St Gobnata fell asleep in the Lord on February 11. The exact year of her death is not known, but it probably occurred in the sixth century. Although she is regarded as the patron saint of Ballyvourney, she is venerated throughout southern Ireland. There are churches dedicated to her in Waterford and Kerry, for example, and she is also revered in Scotland.

The round stone associated with her is still preserved. Several leading families of Munster have a traditional devotion to this best-known and revered local saint. The devotion of the O'Sullivan Beare family may have been the reason that Pope Clement VIII honored Gobnata in 1601 by indulgencing a pilgrimage to her shrine and, in 1602, by authorizing a Proper Mass on her feast. About that time the chieftains of Ireland were making a final struggle for independence and the entire clan migrated to the North having dedicated their fortunes to Gobnata in a mass pilgrimage that included O'Sullivan Beare, his fighting men, and their women, children, and servants

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