Thursday, 19 February 2015

Saint Alban and his extraordinary act of Martyrdom

Saint Alban is a 4th century Englishman worthy of celebration. Unlike Saint George he really existed, was English and performed heroic sacrifices.

Alban’s adventures begin when he shelters a Christian in his hometown, Verulamium and is converted by him to Christianity. This is heresy. Daring not to worship the Roman Gods is a sacrilegious act punishable by death. Knowing that Roman soldiers are seeking his fellow Christian he decides to court great risk by putting on the man’s robe in the hope this will confuse the Roman soldiers hunting for the Christian.

This enables the man he is sheltering to escape but it means Alban is arrested instead at Chantry Island. When the Roman governor finds out about this deception he is furious with Alban. He demands to know who Alban worships and hears the reply "I worship and adore the true and living God who created all things." This is simply too much for the pagan governor so he chops off Alban’s head instead of the fleeing Christian.

The story does not end here. On his way to his place of execution his composed manner leaves a lasting impression on many, in particular one of the soldiers escorting him. So much so that he decides he can not do anything to such a good hearted man as Alban.

As a consequence both men end up losing their heads. Today, British history revers Alban as a martyr but unfortunately not many people know why and instead myths have grown that pass for facts. A good example is the parting of the river as Alban passes over it, much like when Moses supposedly partes the Red Sea. Another is that the man who wielded the sword loses his sight. As with so much of English history this is simply not true.

If you liked that story then remember there are new stories on this site every week that can be found at my Secret History Stories homepage.