St Alban’s Day

22nd June 2023

The community of St Alban is getting ready to come together to celebrate Britain’s first saint, St Alban this weekend.

Happy St Alban’s Day!

The Alban Pilgrimage will see 12 ft tall carnival puppets representing figures from the story of St Alban take to the streets of the city to re-enact the historic events which led to St Alban’s execution at the hands of the Romans.

The puppets will be accompanied by lions, Roman soldiers, angels, chariots and more, creating a spectacle of colour and celebration with a medieval festival taking place in the Orchard of the Cathedral and Pilgrimage Eucharist with preacher, the Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the Bishop of Dover.

Bishop Rose said:

In so many ways, Alban’s story is our story – many in our world today are fleeing persecution and seeking refuge, just as he did more than 1700 years ago. I look forward to joining the Alban pilgrimage in June, as we travel together joyfully sharing in his story.”

 The day will end with a procession into the Cathedral for a Pilgrimage Evensong when red roses will be placed on his shrine in the nave as an act of celebration.

Alban is the first known Christian martyr in Britain whose life was documented by the Venerable Bede. Bede reports that Alban was a pagan living in Verulamium (modern St Albans) when he offered shelter to a Christian priest who was trying to escape Roman persecution. The priest (named Amphibalus according to a later account by Geoffrey of Monmouth) converted Alban to Christianity and baptised him.

When Roman officials came to search the house, Alban dressed in the priest’s cloak and allowed himself to be arrested in his place. He was brought before the governor and scourged, but he refused to give up his faith.

Then the miracles began; as soldiers were leading him to his place of execution, he stopped a river in its course so that he and the soldiers could cross without getting wet. A fountain sprang up upon the summit of the hill where he was due to be executed.

His executioner was converted on the spot and refused to carry out the sentence. A second executioner beheaded Alban but was immediately struck blind and his eyes fell out of their sockets.

The Roman town of Verulamium was later renamed in honour of St Alban. A monastery and cathedral grew up around his shrine, and proved a popular place of pilgrimage in the medieval period. His ornate shrine still stands within St Albans Cathedral and his feast day is today, 22 June.