The Martyrdom of St Alban : Alban voluntarily swapped places with a priest, and was executed for being a member of a banned religious sect.
The Martyrdom of St Alban

Based on A History of the English Church and People, Book I Chapter 7, by St Bede of Jarrow (672-735).

The Roman city of Verulam was later named St Albans, after England’s first martyr. He was executed on June 22, possibly in AD 305, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who was willing to use legislation to force all religions to subscribe to Roman values.

ONE June night in 305, a Christian priest fleeing the authorities in Verulam found refuge in the house of a kindly non-Christian named Alban.*

They talked long about life and faith, and when the soldiers came knocking, Alban insisted on putting on the priest’s clothes, and presenting himself for trial in his place.

The judge ordered Alban to salute the gods of Rome, but Alban refused. He was whipped and then, still defiant, taken for execution on a nearby hill.

The way was barred by a stream, and as the bridge was crowded with onlookers Alban stepped into the water, which slowed to a trickle. At the top of the hill, which was crowned with flowers, the pent-up waters sprang out again at Alban’s feet.

At that, Alban’s executioner threw his sword aside, declaring himself ready to die beside him, and sentence was carried out. But the judge, much chastened, resolved that no more Christians would be punished with death.

* Various other dates have been suggested by scholars; AD 305 is the one in the account used for this story.

Based on A History of the English Church and People, Book I Chapter 7, by St Bede of Jarrow (672-735).

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Picture: © Andrew Hill, Geograph. Licence: CC-BY-SA 2.0. View original
Wood sorrel beside a cheerful stream near Wormhill in Derbyshire. Bede tells us that on the flowery hill where Alban stood before his executioner, a little stream suddenly bubbled up.
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Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)

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