Sunday, 1 July 2012

Saint Alban – “First Martyr of these Islands” (celebrated 22nd June)

Saint Alban’s Abbey in Hertfordshire is a fascinating building with architectural styles from the Norman through to the 20th Century. The most recent bit of building work has been the splendid reconstruction of the shrine of Saint Alban. The medieval gallery is original and is where the monks of the abbey would keep watch and vigil at the shrine. Alban was a pagan living at Verulamium (now St Albans) who was converted to Christianity by the fugitive Christian priest he was sheltering. The exact date of his death is unknown with some sources listing 209 and some (including Bede) placing his martyrdom as late as 304.
The circumstances however are that Alban put on the priest’s garments and delivered himself up to be killed in place of the Priest. He was arrested, brought before the magistrate and condemned to death. He was taken to a nearby hill and beheaded on the site which was later where the first shrine was constructed and later, the Abbey. The relics of Saint Alban were somehow translated to the Church of St Panteleon in Cologne – probably for safe-keeping at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries - and in 2002 a shoulder blade of the saint was presented to St Albans Abbey and placed inside the newly restored shrine.
Holy Martyr Alban pray to God for us!