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The Story of Saint Alban
First Martyr in Britain and Patron Saint of Saint Alban's Grand Valley

Pagans trying to persuade Alban to worship Phoebus
Pagans trying to convince Alban
to worship Roman Gods

Alban lived (at some time during the 3rd century) in the Roman city of Verulamium. Although he was then a worshipper of Roman gods including the emperor, he gave shelter to a Christian priest fleeing from persecution. Influenced by the priest's prayer and teaching he became a Christian.

When the authorities discovered the priest's hiding place Alban exchanged clothes with him. The priest escaped and Alban was bound and taken before the judge. The judge was furious at the deception, and ordered that Alban should receive the punishment due to the priest, if he had indeed become a Christian.

Alban declared his Christian faith, saying in words still used at the Cathedral of St. Alban in England,  "I worship and adore the true and living God, who created all things." Despite flogging Alban refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods and was sentenced to death.

He was brought out of the town, across the river and up a hill to the site of execution where his head was cut off.


Triple stream of water issuing forth at Albans prayer
A triple stream of water springs forth
at Alban's prayer.

Legend tells us that on the hill-top a spring of water miraculously appeared to give the martyr a drink and that the original executioner was so moved by this manifestation of God's power that he refused to carry out the deed.  After his replacement killed Alban the executioners' eyes dropped out.

The beheading of St Alban an the fate of his executioner
The execution of St. Alban
(Note the fate of his executioner!)

The Venerable Bede tells us that:

when the peace of Christian times was restored a beautiful church worthy of his martyrdom was built, where sick folk are healed and frequent miracles take place to this day

The Shrine of St Alban

The shrine of St. Alban as it appears in
the Cathedral today.

In later years the church also contained the shrine of Amphibalus, the priest whose life Alban had saved.

Ever since those early times, people have journeyed to the Cathedral of St. Alban in England to remember Alban and all that he stands for. They go to pray for peace, healing, and to seek God.  In the early Middle Ages they came in such numbers that St. Alban's became the premier Abbey in all England.

The medieval illustrations are from The Life of St Alban written and illustrated by Matthew Paris (died 1259) who was a monk at St Albans Abbey. Copyright on these images belongs to The Board of Trinity College Dublin.

A collect for St. Alban's day:

Heavenly Father,
you conferred upon your holy martyr Alban
such love for the mercy of Christ
that he freely gave his life to save a hunted Christian.
Grant that we, following his example,
might be so faithful in our confession of the Gospel
that we too might feel called to protect those
who flee from  persecution
and bear the reproaches of those who threaten their lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.  Amen


This page comes to us courtesy of:


The Cathedral and Abbey Church of Saint Alban is the seat of the Bishop of St Albans and serves the Diocese of St Albans in the counties of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, the Borough of Luton and the London Borough of Barnet. The Cathedral is also a parish church with a large and active congregation. The head of the Cathedral establishment is the Dean of St Albans, the Very Reverend Dr Christopher Lewis. Dean Lewis is also the Rector of the Parish of St Albans Abbey. Click here to go to their site:  www.stalbanscathedral.org.uk


Last update on this page:  22 April, 2006