Who Was St. Alban?


If you look at our north window, you will see the image of a man holding a cross and reading a Bible. The man is St. Alban – Britain's first martyr. 

Tradition tells us that Alban was a soldier in the Roman army stationed at Verulamium, a city about twenty miles northeast of London, now called St. Alban’s. He gave shelter to a Christian priest who was fleeing from persecution; and was converted by him and baptized into the Christian faith.  When officers came to Alban’s house, he dressed himself in the garments of the priest and gave himself up.  Alban was tortured and martyred in place of the priest, on the hilltop where the Cathedral of St. Alban’s now stands. The traditional date of his martyrdom is 303 or 304, but recent studies suggest that the year was actually 209, during the persecution under the Emperor Septimius Severus.

The Venerable Bede gives this account of Alban’s trial:

“When Alban was brought in, the judge happened to be standing before an altar, offering sacrifice to devils ... ‘What is your family and race?’ demanded the judge. ‘How does my family concern you?’ replied Alban; ‘If you wish to know the truth about my religion, know that I am a Christian and am ready to do a Christian’s duty.’ ‘I demand to know your name,’ insisted the judge. ‘Tell me at once.’ ‘My parents named me Alban,’ he answered, ‘and I worship and adore the living and true God, who created all things.’ ”

We celebrate his feast day on June 22.

Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Alban triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death: Grant us, who now remember him in thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.