St. Alban was still a heathen when the decrees of the Emperors Diocletian and Maximilian set the storm raging against the Christians, at which time he gave a certain clergyman refuge in his house.
As he saw this person intent on prayer and vigils by day and night, suddenly the grace of God moved him to seek to copy that ensample of faith and godliness. Thereupon he was gradually taught by the precious exhortations of his guest and cast away the darkness of idolatry, and became a Christian with his whole heart.
Upon a time the persecutors came to the house to search for this clergyman, and St. Alban, to save his guest and teacher, wrapped himself in the other’s great cloak, and allowed the soldiers to take him; who bound him with thongs and led him unto the judge.
When the judge found out the trick that had been played upon him, he commanded God’s holy Confessor to be smitten by the tormentors, and when he found that he could not overcome him by the torture, nor beguile him from the practice of the Christian Faith, he ordered him to be beheaded.
When St. Alban came to the top of the hill which was hard by, the executioner, who was to behead him, was seized with terror from God, cast away his sword and threw himself at the feet of the Saint, himself desiring rather to die with the Martyr or for the Martyr.
St. Alban therefore was beheaded there, and received that crown of life that God hath promised him; and along with him was beheaded that soldier who refused to strike God’s witness, and of whom we know that although he was not washed in the water of Baptism, he was purified in the laver of his own blood, and was made worthy to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
St. Alban suffered hard by Verulam (the common designation of Verulamium, the third-largest city in Roman Britain, near the present-day town of St. Albans) the twenty-second day of June. And the date of the death of this brave man, Britain’s Protomartyr, is set at 304.
For more than 1200 years, monasteries and convents have chanted a series of verses during the final week of Advent known as the Great O Antiphons. Each verse names Christ by a different title, one of them being Emmanuel—”God With Us.” Read more >>