Gobnait (Gobnet, Gobhnet, Gobnaid, Gobnata, or Gobnatae), was born in County Clare, Ireland, sometime in the 5th or 6th century. Gobnait is Irish for Abigail (“Brings Joy”). As the patron saint of beekeepers, her name also has been anglicized as Deborah, meaning "Honey Bee."
The symbolism and inspiration:
For nearly a decade, I've been wanting to portray a patron saint of bees.
I knew about Ambrose, but wasn't really inspired by his "honey tongue" as a reason for his patronage. Then there's Valentine, but he's got a lot of other responsibilities. For years now, in the Writer's Almanac, Garrison Keillor has been noting "Midsummer's Eve or St. John's Eve," with St. John being the patron saint of beekeepers...I keep meaning to let Garrison know there are others, but St. Expeditus just hasn't been up-to-speed on my cases lately!
I grew up with an appreciation for the healing properties of honey and the "wonderfulness" of bees. My grandfather, Dr. Jacob Hutzelman developed a cure for foul brood, and my beloved Aunt Alice, an RN, was also a beekeeper. She even met her husband because of the bees. (With thick glasses and a plaid shirt, Gobnait would look a lot like her.)
Then, as often happens, someone "connected" with me and sent the inspiration I needed. A beekeeper (named Deborah!) emailed an inquiry about considering St. Gobnait. I did, and here it is... -PB