First British Christian Martyr – Saint Alban


St.  Albans Cathedral
St. Albans Cathedral

Saint Alban was the first British Christian Martyr. Along with his fellow Saints Julius and AaronAlban is one of three martyrs remembered from Roman BritainAlban is listed in the Church of England Calendar for 22 June and he continues to be venerated in the Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox CommunionsAlban was a pagan living at Verulamium (now St Albans), who converted to Christianity, and was executed by decapitation on a hill above the Roman settlement of Verulamium. St Albans Abbey was later founded near this site. The date of Alban’s execution has never been firmly established. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles lists the year 283. Alban sheltered a Christian priest (Geoffrey of Monmouth’s later interpolation giving his name as “Amphibalus”, the name for the cloak) in his home, and was converted and baptised by him. When the “impious prince”, as Bede has called him, sent Roman soldiers to Alban’s house to look for the priest, Alban exchanged cloaks with the priest and was arrested in his stead at Chantry Island. Alban was taken before the magistrate, who was furious at the deception and ordered that Alban be given the punishment due to the priest if he had indeed become a Christian. Alban declared, “I worship and adore the true and living God who created all things.” These words are still used in prayer at St Albans AbbeySt Alban was eventually sacrificed to the Roman gods and was condemned to death. He was taken out of the town across the River Ver to the top of the hill opposite. The reputed place of his beheading is where St. Albans Cathedral now stands.

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