Venerated as the first-recorded British Christian martyr (protomartyr), St. Alban is venerated in the East on 22nd June, and in the West on 17th June because of a misreading of the Roman XXII.
Alban lived Verulamium (now St Albans) in Roman Britain when Christians were suffering persecution under Septimius Severus 193-211. Alban met a Christian priest fleeing from persecutors and sheltered him in his house for a number of days. Alban was so impressed with the priest’s faith and piety that he found himself emulating him and soon converted to Christianity. When it became known and they came to seize the priest, Alban put on the priest’s cloak and clothing and presented himself to the soldiers in place of his guest.
Alban was brought before a judge and sentenced to endure all the punishments that were to be inflicted upon the priest, unless he would comply with the pagan rites of their religion. Alban refused, and declared, “I worship and adore the true and living God who created all things.” (The words are still used in prayer at St Alban’s Abbey). The enraged judge ordered Alban to be scourged, thinking it would shake his faith, but Alban bore these torments patiently. The judge then gave orders for Alban to be beheaded.
When they reached the place of execution the executioner cast down his sword and fell at Alban’s feet, moved by divine inspiration, and prayed that he might either suffer with Alban or be executed for him. They were beheaded on a hill covered with wild flowers overlooking a beautiful plain. Today the great cathedral of St Albans marks the place of martyrdom and a holy well is at the bottom of the hill, Holywell Hill.
Today Saint Alban is venerated by both East and West. He is depicted in a window in Colemere Church and in an Icon in the Orthodox Church at Shrewsbury.
The feature image for this post is a copy of an Icon of St. Alban by Aidan Hart, in the Church of the Holy Fathers, Shrewsbury.