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.
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
The execution of St. Alban
(Note the fate of his executioner!)
The Venerable Bede tells
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 as it appears in
the Cathedral today.
In later years the church
also contained the shrine of Amphibalus, the priest whose life Alban had
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.
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
A collect for St. Alban's day:
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