Clergy Notes — Pentecost 4, June 16, 2024

This week the church celebrates St. Alban, Britain’s first martyr. His story is a remarkable one. He was a soldier in one of the Roman legions that guarded the Province of Britannia early in the third century. This legion’s camp was at a place called Verulamium, some twenty miles north of London. Alban was a pagan, but he was moved with compassion when he encountered a Christian priest who was fleeing persecution. He offered him refuge in his own dwelling, at great risk to his personal safety. When Alban witnessed the priest saying his prayers, he was impressed by the man’s obvious sincerity and deep devotion. A discussion followed, during which Alban declared himself ready to become a Christian.

Meanwhile, the Roman authorities received reports that the priest was hiding with Alban and soldiers were dispatched to seize him. When the detail arrived at his house, Alban was at the doorway. He was wearing the priest’s cloak (the customary garb of a priest in those days) and presented himself to the soldiers as the person they were looking for. He was taken before the military governor, who quickly discovered the ruse and asked him to save himself by offering the ritual sacrifices to the Emperor. Alban refused point blank and declared, “I am Alban and serve the only true and living God, who created all things”. He was condemned to death and beheaded that same day. Alban’s martyrdom is considered to have been his baptism.

Since that time, the site of his execution has been the site of Christian pilgrimage. Today, there is a magnificent cathedral that bears his name, which I strongly encourage you to visit if ever you are in that part of the world. It has one of the best visitors’ centres that I have encountered, a fine liturgy that combines the best of traditional and contemporary resources and an impressive record of outreach into the local community.

Fr Neil Gray

Download the Liturgy at Home booklet for Sunday, June 16, 2024.