19 June 2014

St. Alban, Britain's Protomartyr

St. Alban is the first recorded Christian martyr in Britain, and although the traditional date of his death is c.304 during the persecution under the Emperor Diocletian, there are many scholars who would date it as early as c.209, during the persecution under the Emperor Septimius Severus.

Alban was a pagan, serving as a soldier in the Roman Army. He gave shelter to a Christian priest who was fleeing from arrest, and during the next few days the two talked at length. As a result, Alban became a Christian.

When officers came in search of the priest, Alban met them, dressed in the priest's cloak, and they mistook him for the priest and arrested him. He refused to renounce his new faith, and was beheaded, so becoming the first Christian martyr in Britain. The second martyr was the executioner who was to kill him, but who heard his testimony and was so impressed that he, too, professed the Christian Faith, and refused to kill Alban. The third martyr was the priest, who when he learned that Alban had been arrested in his place, hurried to the court in the hope of saving Alban by turning himself in. The place of their deaths is near the site of St. Alban's Cathedral today.

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