What Is St. Abigail Known For?

St. Abigail, also known as St. Gobnait, is known for being the patron saint of beekeepers and bees. She is one of the relatively few female saints to originate from medieval Celtic society.

Abigail is allegedly the sister of St. Abban, and tradition says that Abigail had to escape from her family home. While fleeing, an angel reportedly led her to a deer grazing spot that would eventually become the site of her monastery.

Celtic mythology placed great importance on the bee, believing that the human soul took on a bee's form following death. Therefore, Abigail became a beekeeper and used her bees' honey to help in healing the sick. As a result, Abigail's followers attribute bee-related miracles to her. For example, one story tells of Abigail driving off a thief by sending a swarm of bees after him.

Another miracle attributed to Abigail is her consecration of a field that prevented the plague from entering her town. Legend also states that Abigail used a round stone to continuously knock down the walls of an evildoer's castle until the thief gave up and fled; this round stone is still preserved. Her statue in Ballyvourney has a piece of wool that is still believed to have healing powers.