WHO WAS ST ALBAN?
St Alban was the first English martyr, executed in the mid-third century. It was said that he was beheaded on a picturesque hill, thirty miles north of London. St Alban’s Abbey now stands on this site where many are drawn to God.
The Venerable Bede, writing in the mid-eighth century tells us that
“Alban, while he was still a pagan, hid in his house a certain priest, who was running from his persecutors. He observed his guest engaged in continual prayer and keeping vigil day and night. Prompted by a sudden infusion of divine light, he began to imitate the priest’s example of faith and piety. Gradually instructed by his wholesome admonitions, Alban cast off the darkness of idolatry, and became a sincerely committed Christian. The wicked prince heard that the holy confessor of Christ was concealed at Alban’s house. So he sent soldiers to make a strict search for him."
" When they came to the martyr’s house, St Alban, dressed in the priest's long coat, immediately presented himself instead of his guest and master, and was led, bound, before the judge. Enraged that Alban had substituted himself for the priest, the judge ordered him to confess his faith in the Roman gods. Alban stoutly refused, and during his interrogation provoked the ruler by saying that his gods were devils and that worshipping them would condemn him to hell.
The judge tried to break the saint’s will by having him flogged. But Alban endured through every torture so the official condemned him to death. After a miraculous crossing of a river to where Alban was to be martyred, the executioner cast down his sword, which he had drawn, and fell at Alban’s feet that he might suffer with the martyr, or, if possible, instead of him. Alban asked aloud that God would give him water, and a spring bubbled up at his feet. He and his new Christian companion were beheaded.
As a result of this and many other things, the ruler relented and cancelled further persecution and began to honour the martyrs.”
The Times’ Book of Saints – Bert Chezzi
Death of St. Alban