Saint Alban

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Saint Alban
Saint Alban (cropped).jpg
Saint Alban
Martyr
Born unknown
Verulamium
Died disputed: 22 June 209, c.251 or 304
Holywell Hill (formerly Holmhurst Hill), St Albans
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Anglican Communion
Eastern Orthodox Church
Major shrine Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban
Feast 22 June
Attributes Soldier with a very large cross and a sword; decapitated, with his head in a holly bush and the eyes of his executioner dropping out
Patronage converts, refugees, torture victims

Saint Alban (/ˈɔːlbən, ˈæl-/; Latin: Albanus) is venerated as the first recorded British Christian martyr,[1] and is considered to be the British protomartyr. Along with his fellow saints Julius, and Aaron, Alban is one of three named martyrs recorded at an early date from Roman Britain ("Amphibalus" was the name given much later to the priest said to have been protected by St. Alban). He is traditionally believed to have been beheaded in the Roman city of Verulamium (modern St Albans) sometime during the 3rd or 4th century, and his cult has been celebrated there since ancient times.

Disputed Historicity[edit]

Little can actually be known about the real St Alban (estimated to have died c. 209 – 305 A.D. depending on interpretations), as there are no contemporaneous accounts of his martyrdom. The major sources on his life were written hundreds of years after his death, and many of the later texts contain traditional additions and wondrous embellishments that may or may not have occurred. In the view of Robin Lane Fox, "the date and historicity of the first British 'martyr', St Alban, are highly disputable".[2]

Saint Alban was long regarded as a genuine martyr saint, the 'Proto-martyr' of Britain. For much of the 20th century controversy centred around the date of his martyrdom (see further 'Dating Controversy', below). More recently some researchers have taken a more skeptical view about the historicity of Saint Alban. In an article published in 2000 [3] Philip Thornhill put forward the case that the cult of the martyr Alban was one of many early Christian cults with its ultimate roots in pagan traditions, although in this case 're-invented' to serve a contemporary political purpose. The theory proposed that Saint Alban was in some sense a personification of Albion (the oldest recorded name for Britain) and his cult was used by Verulamium (the modern St Albans) in its efforts to unify, and establish its dominance over, the old Roman province of Britannia. The name Elafius, mentioned as that of a British official in the Life of Saint Germanus (see below) was identified as a 'mis-hearing' of Albios or Albius as another name for Albanus (in a corrupt, oral, version of the story of Germanus's visit to Britain) and the cult of the traditionally 'pre-Patrican' Saint Ailbe of Emly in Munster, in Ireland was identified as representing, in origin, the cult of Alban/Albios. Assorted later figures, of mainly hagiographical legend (i.e. the legends about supposed saints), were identified as, at least in part, much devolved and mutated derivatives of a 'fragmented' cult of Alban/Albios.

This theory received little support, or even notice, but in 2008 the historian Ian Wood proposed (independently) that the martyr-saint was an 'invention' of Saint Germanus of Auxerre.[4] Germanus visited Britain in 429, as we know from the very near-contemporary mention by Prosper of Aquitaine. His chronicle, in the entry for the year 429 (published in 433), states:

Agricola, a Pelagian, the son of the Pelagian bishop Severianus, corrupted the British churches by the insinuation of his doctrine. But at the persuasion of the deacon Palladius, Pope Celestine sent Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, as his representative, and having rejected the heretics, directed the British to the catholic faith.[5]

Meanwhile, it was recorded in the Vita Germani ('Life of Saint Germanus of Auxerre'), written probably sometime between 450 and 485 [6] by Constantius of Lyons, that he, together with his fellow bishop Lupus, having stamped out the heresy of 'Pelagianism' in Britain visited the tomb of Saint Alban:

When this damnable heresy had thus been stamped out, its authors refuted, and the minds of all re-established in the true faith, the bishops visited the shrine of the blessed martyr Alban, to give thanks to God through him. (Vita Germani 12) [7]

The martyr Alban is also mentioned, one more time, in the context of Germanus's return journey, by sea:

Their own merits and the intercession of Alban the Martyr secured for them a calm voyage; and a good ship brought them back in peace to their expectant people. (Vita Germani 13)

The Vita Germani was long regarded as the earliest source for the martyr Alban although recent research by Richard Sharpe [8] has suggested the earliest version of the Passio Albani [9] (the official story of the saint's martyrdom) may be even earlier (see below, this section, and also sources). Professor Wood's argument was based partly on the idea that the name Albanus is suggestive of Albion as the oldest name for Britain, although for him the name Alban suggested simply “the man from Albion” rather than an actual 'personification' of the island and its people. It is, in any case, a part of what suggested to Professor Wood that “it is Germanus who gives Alban a name”. This, in turn, encouraged him in his conclusion that “The story of the saint’s martyrdom seems to have been revealed to, or invented by, Germanus in the context of his anti-Pelagian mission” and in a later article [10] “Alban may, therefore, have been 'discovered' by the bishop of Auxerre”.

This argument has been accepted by, for instance, Michael Garcia [11] but disputed by, for instance, Professor Nick Higham, who in an article written in 2014 [12] noted that since Germanus brought relics of continental saints with him - which, so the Passio relates, he deposits in the tomb of Germanus[clarification needed] while removing some bloodstained earth, to take thence back to Gaul - he must have known from the start that he would make a visit to the cult-centre of Saint Alban as part of his campaign against the Pelagian heresy. On this basis he states: “This would make good sense in terms of his mission, claiming Britain’s most famous cult for Catholicism”. He was therefore arguing against the conclusion of Professor Woods and Michael Garcia that the martyr Alban was unknown before being 'invented' by Germanus, although, of course, it is always possible to argue that Germanus did not know, in advance, precisely how he would use the relics of European saints when he took them with him, on his journey from Gaul.

Key to the argument here is a passage in the T version of the Passio that Professor Richard Sharpe has convincingly argued represents an 'interpolation' into the more original E text. All extant versions of the Passio mention (after describing the story of the saint's marttyrdom) Germanus's visit to the tomb of Saint Alban. The E version, followed essentially by the T version, states (in the translation of Professor Sharpe):

When Germanus came to Alban's basilica, carrying with him relics of all the apostles and of several martyrs...

but interpolated at this point in only the T version is

...Alban had revealed himself to Germanus on his journey, and now, so Germanus himself relates, St Alban met him on the stormy seas. But while he had been keeping vigil at night in his basilica, in the dawn when he had given in to sleep St. Alban appeared to him and communicated to him by revelation to him what had happened at the time of his martyrdom and he made this public in order that the events should be preserved in writing on placards....

after which the T version essentially follows the E version again:

...he ordered the graves to be opened for him to place precious gifts in the same place, in order that the lodging of a single grave might hold membra of saints brought together from various regions whom heaven had received as equal in merit. Once these were honorably disposed and united, with violent devotion and a pious boldness of faith he took from the place where the blood of the martyr had flowed a lump of earth in which it was visible that the ground was red with blood preserved from the martyr's death while the persecutor was pale. When all these things were revealed and made known a huge crowd of people was brought to god with the help of our Lord Jesus Christ to whom is honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

It is possible to deduce from the interpolated passage that the name of the martyr was unknown before being revealed to Germanus, either in a vision he had of the martyr during his sea journey or in the dream he had in the basilica. It is also possible to deduce that it was simply the acta, or 'story of the martyrdom', of an already well known figure that was revealed to Germanus. These acta were then written down in tituli (translated above as 'placards'): that is possibly engraved in the walls of a church with illustrations. This might have been either in a church in Auxerre (Germanus's home town in Gaul) as argued by Professors Sharpe and Wood, or in Britain. If the latter is the case then, by being on public display, they might have served to give a definitive version of the saint's martyrdom, which could not be contradicted or reinterpreted (for instance by the addition of 'Pelagian' themes) [13] In any case it has been argued by Professors Sharpe and Wood that these acta written down in tituli were in actual fact the original, very simple and short, first version of the Passio Albani that has come down to us in the 'E', and later, versions [14] This is very possible but, of course, quite unprovable, although it seems clear the Passio originates with the circle of Saint Germanus at Auxerre. As time went on, more and more details and wondrous events were added to the account until it came to its most detailed version in the 8th century, in Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People.

The location of the tomb of Saint Alban that Germanus visited is most often thought to have been Verulamium, the modern St Albans. This is on the basis of what is in fact the earliest mention of the martyr Alban in an indigenous British source, in the De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae probably written in the second quarter of the fifth century,[15] by the British author Gildas. As part of his brief historical account he describes the persecution of Christians in Britain (which he identifies as part of the persecution of Diocletian), adding at the end of a passage about "their graves and the places where they suffered": "I refer to Saint Alban of Verulam (Verolamiensem), Aaron and Iulius, citizens of Caerleon (Legionum Urbis) and others of both sexes, who in different places, displayed the highest spirit in the battle-line of Christ". (De Excidio 10 )[16]

The Verulamium location is supported by the fact that the topography of the Passio can be broadly, if not quite exactly [17] matched to that of Verulamium whilst Bede describes an important cult of Saint Alban there, by the early eighth century at least.[18] Some doubt, however, is encouraged by the fact that in his account of Albans's martyrdom Gildas (De Excidio 11) describes the martyr as crossing the river Thames to his place of execution (at Verulamium/St Alban's there is only the much smaller River Ver), which some have taken as an indication that the actual martyrdom (or the more original version of the story about it) was located in Londinium.

Stained glass window depicting Saint Alban, Britain's Proto-martyr, and Saint George, Patron Saint of England.

Hagiography[edit]

According to the most elaborate version of the tale found in Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Alban lived in Verulamium, sometime during the 3rd or 4th century (see dating controversy below), though some authors, on the basis that Gildas says he crosses the Thames before his martyrdom, place his residence and martyrdom in London.[19] He lived during the Roman period in Britain, but little is known about his religious affiliations, socioeconomic status, or citizenship. Sometime in the 3rd or 4th century, Christians began to suffer "cruel persecution."[20] Alban met a Christian priest fleeing from "persecutors," and sheltered him in his house for a number of days. The priest (who later came to be called Amphibalus, meaning "cloak" in Latin) prayed and "kept watch" day and night, and Alban was so impressed with the priest's faith and piety that he found himself emulating the priest, and soon converted to Christianity. Eventually it came to the ears of an unnamed "impious prince" that Alban was sheltering the priest, and this prince gave orders for Roman soldiers to make a strict search of Alban's house. As they came to seize the priest, Alban put on the priest's cloak and clothing, and presented himself to the soldiers in place of his guest.[20]

Alban was brought before the judge, who just then happened to be standing at the altar, offering sacrifices to "devils" (Bede's reference to Pagan gods).[20] When the judge heard that Alban had offered himself up in place of the priest, he became enraged that Alban would shelter a person who "despised and blasphemed the gods,"[20] and as Alban had given himself up in this Christian's place, Alban was sentenced to endure all the punishments that were to be inflicted upon the priest, unless he would comply with the pagan rites of their religion. Alban refused, and declared "I worship and adore the true and living God who created all things." (These words are still used in prayer at St Alban's Abbey). The enraged judge ordered Alban scourged, thinking that a whipping would shake the constancy of his heart, but Alban bore these torments patiently and joyfully.[20] When the judge realized that these tortures would not shake his faith, he ordered that Alban be beheaded.[20]

Stained glass in St Albans Cathedral showing death of Saint Alban

Alban was led to execution, and he presently came to a fast flowing river which could not be crossed (believed to be the River Ver). There was a bridge, but a mob of curious townspeople who wished to watch the execution had so clogged the bridge that the execution party could not cross. Filled with an ardent desire to arrive quickly at martyrdom, Alban raised his eyes to heaven, and the river dried up, allowing Alban and his captors to cross over on dry land. The astonished executioner cast down his sword and fell at Alban's feet, moved by divine inspiration, and praying that he might either suffer with Alban, or if possible be executed for him.[20][21] The other executioners hesitated to pick up his sword, and in the meanwhile, Alban and the multitude went about 500 paces to a gently sloping hill, completely covered with all kinds of wild flowers, and overlooking a beautiful plain (Bede observes that it was a fittingly beautiful place to be enriched and sanctified by a martyr's blood).[20]

The martyrdom of St Alban, from a 13th-century manuscript, now in the Trinity College Library, Dublin. Note the executioner's eyes falling out of his head.

When Alban reached the summit of the hill he began to thirst, and prayed God would give him water, whereupon a spring immediately sprang up at his feet. It was at this place that his head was struck off, as well as that of the first Roman soldier who was miraculously converted and refused to execute him. However, immediately after delivering the fatal stroke, the eyes of the second executioner popped out of his head and dropped to the ground along with Alban's head, so that this second executioner could not rejoice over Alban's death.[20] In later legends, Alban's head rolled downhill after his execution, and a well sprang up where it stopped.[22] Upon hearing of these miracles, the astonished judge ordered further persecutions to cease, and began to honour the saint's death.[20]

St Albans Cathedral now stands near to the believed site of his execution, and a well does exist at the bottom of the hill, Holywell Hill.[22]

Sources[edit]

The earliest mention of Alban's martyrdom is believed to be in Victricius's De Laude Sanctorum (The Praise of Saints), c. 396. Victricius had just returned from settling an unnamed dispute among the bishops of Britain.[23] He does not mention Alban by name, but includes an unnamed martyr who, "in the hands of the executioners told rivers to draw back, lest he should be delayed in his haste."[23] This account closely resembles Alban's martyrdom, and many historians have reasonably concluded that this may be a reference to Alban, making it the earliest surviving reference to a British Saint. There can be no certainty, however, that the martyr referred to is actually Saint Alban.[24]

The foundational text concerning Alban is the Passio Albani, or the Passion of Alban, which relates the tale of Alban's martyrdom, and Germanus of Auxerre's subsequent visit to the site of Alban's execution. This Passio survives in six manuscripts, with three different recensions, referred to as T, P, and E.[25] The T manuscript is located in Turin, the P manuscript is found in Paris, and the E manuscripts (of which there are 4) are located at The British Library and Gray's Inn, both in London, and Autun (France) and Einsiedeln (Switzerland). This Passio is very likely the source text of the more well-known accounts found in Gildas and Bede.

Another early text to mention Alban is the Vita Germani, or Life of St Germanus of Auxerre, written about 480 by Constantius of Lyon.[26] This text only very briefly mentions Alban, but is an important text concerning his nascent cult. According to the Vita, Germanus visited Alban's grave shortly after defeating the Pelagian heresy in Britain, and petitioned Saint Alban to give thanks to God on his (Germanus's) behalf. They once again call on him during their voyage home, and Alban is credited with providing smooth sailing for their voyage back to the continent.

Martyrdom of Amphibalus from the Trinity College Life of St Alban.
Framed tinted drawing of Heraclius taking down the head of Saint Alban, from the Trinity College Life.

Gildas gives a short account of Alban's martyrdom in his De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae (c. 570),[19] and Bede gives a much fuller account in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People (c. 730).[20] Gildas calls Alban a martyr of Verulamium but says he crossed the river Thames prior to his execution, during the persecution of Diocletian. Bede's account is much more detailed, but sets the events during the reign of Septimius Severus and in the town of Verulamium, where a shrine devoted to Alban had been established by at least 429 A.D., when Germanus of Auxerre is said to have visited the cult centre during his tour of Britain. Alban is also briefly mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (c. 900),[27] and by Geoffrey of Monmouth in Historia Regum Britanniae (c. 1136).[28] It is also possible that his martyrdom is referenced in the Acta Martyrum.

Another early source for Saint Alban is the Martyrologium Hieronymianum, or (so called) 'Martyrology of Saint Jerome', in which the entry In Britannia Albani martyris probably occurred originally under the date of the 22nd of June. In fact, in our extant versions, Alban has acquired numerous companions due to confusion/conflation with other entries. The martyrology is preserved in a ninth century copy but was probably composed in something close to its present form around 600, with our surviving recension showing some signs of being based on a recension compiled at Auxerre (significantly the home town of Saint Germanus) [29] For Thornhill (see above) the date given here for Alban's martyrdom is striking for its closeness to the summer equinox (on which some variants of the Hieronymianum do actually place the Saint's day) which being the day when the sun is at its brightest in midsummer, might suggest there is indeed some significance in the literal meaning of the name Albanus (or at least the root albho- on which it's based) as 'white' or 'bright'.

Matthew Paris, the celebrated medieval English chronicler and most famous of St Alban's Abbey's monks, produced a beautifully illustrated Life of St Alban in the 13th century, which is in French verse adapted from a Latin Life of St Alban by William of St Albans, c. 1178. This is now at the Trinity College Library in Dublin.

Dating controversy[edit]

The date of Alban's execution has never been firmly established. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle lists the year 283,[30] but Bede places it in 305, "when the cruel Emperors first published their edicts against the Christians." In other words, sometime after the publication of the edicts by Eastern Roman Emperor Diocletian in 303, and before the proclamation of toleration in the Edict of Milan by co-ruling Roman Emperors Constantine I and Licinius, in 313. Bede, here, was probably following Gildas.

Icon of Saint Alban

English historian John Morris suggests that Alban's martyrdom took place during the persecutions of Emperor Septimius Severus in 209.[31] Morris bases his claims on the Turin version of the Passio Albani, unknown to Bede, which states, "Alban received a fugitive cleric and put on his garment and his cloak (habitu et caracalla) that he was wearing and delivered himself up to be killed instead of the priest… and was delivered immediately to the evil Caesar Severus." According to Morris St Gildas knew this source, but mistranslated the name "Severus" as an adjective, wrongly identifying the emperor as Diocletian. Bede accepted this identification as fact, and dates St Alban's martyrdom to this later period. As Morris points out, Diocletian reigned only in the East, and would not have been involved in British affairs in 304; Emperor Severus, however, was in Britain from 208 to 211. Morris thus dates Alban's death to 209.[32] However, the mention of Severus in the Turin version has been shown to be an interpolation into an original text which mentioned only a iudex or 'judge'.[33] Subsequent scholars (W. H. C. Frend and Charles Thomas for example) have argued that such a single, localised British martyrdom in 209 would have been unusual, and have suggested the period of 251–59 (under the persecutors Decius or Valerian) are more likely.

Location controversy[edit]

While it is certain that the cult devoted to Saint Alban was established in Verulamium and his martyrdom was also alleged to have taken place there, the sources are unclear about where he was actually executed. Neither Victricius's De Laude Sanctorum nor the Passio Albani mention where he was martyred, other than that it was in Britain. In the Vita Germani, Germanus visits Alban's tomb and touches droplets of his blood still on the ground, but the text does not name the location of the tomb. It is not until Gildas that Alban is connected with Verulamium.

Cult of Saint Alban[edit]

The hilltop located outside Verulamium eventually became a cult centre devoted to Alban. It has been claimed (though doubted by some) that a memoria over the execution point and holding the remains of St Alban may have existed at the site from c. 300, and possibly earlier. There was certainly a cult centre of St Alban at Verulamium by the time of Bede writing c.731 and the mention in Gildas strongly suggests it was already in existence by the early sixth century. However, when and how the cult of Saint Alban originated is the subject of some debate: there is little textual or archaeological evidence that a cult of Saint Alban existed before Germanus of Auxerre visited the site in 429. In fact, one version of the Passio Albani says that Germanus didn't know the name or story of Saint Alban before visiting the site, and that Alban appeared to him in a dream to reveal his identity and martyrdom story.[25] This can be interpreted as suggesting (see above: The Disputed Historicity) that the cult of Saint Alban did not exist before the arrival of Germanus. Germanus is said to have taken away dust from the site, which was still marked with Alban's blood.[26] The cult and veneration of saints was still in its infancy at this time, and it has been suggested that Germanus had a hand in creating and promoting the cult of Saint Alban.

Shrine of Saint Alban in St Albans Cathedral

Gildas writing probably in the second quarter of the fifth century calls Saint Alban Verolamiensis, 'of Verulamium' in a passage that refers to the "graves and places where they suffered" of the early British martyrs. This suggests there was at least a shrine - but quite possibly a church - to him at Verulamium, by that time. Certainly, Bede (c. 720) mentions a church there, dedicated to him. Offa of Mercia established a Benedictine Abbey and monastery at the site c. 793, but the abbey was probably sacked and destroyed by the Danes c. 890. It was rebuilt by the Normans, with construction beginning in 1077. By the High Middle Ages St Albans ranked as the premier Abbey in England. The abbey church now serves as the cathedral of the Diocese of St Albans, established in 1877.

In a chapel east of the crossing and high altar, there are remains of the fourteenth century marble shrine of St Alban.[21] In June 2002 a scapula (shoulder blade), believed to be a relic of St Alban, was presented to St Albans Cathedral and placed inside the saint's restored 13th-century shrine. The bone was given by the Church of St Pantaleon in Cologne, Germany [11]. St Pantaleon's, like St Albans Cathedral a former Benedictine abbey church that had a shrine dedicated to St Alban, has possessed remains believed to be those of St Alban since the 10th century. It is entirely possible that further relics were acquired by the church in the 16th century at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries in England, when many such relics were smuggled abroad to prevent their destruction; St Albans Abbey was dissolved in 1539.

The largest relic of St Alban in England is the thigh of the protomartyr preserved at St Michael's Benedictine Abbey, Farnborough, Hampshire, which was removed from the St Pantaleon's reliquary in the 1950s.

Continental Cult of Saint Alban[edit]

There has also been an extensive cult of Saint Alban on the continent from an early date. This includes locations such as Mainz, Cologne and Basel on the Rhine, as well as a number of other localities in Switzerland and Italy and a notable concentration in the French Apline regions and the Rhone valley.[34] Sometimes the 'Saint Alban', concerned, is regarded as a separate figure, sometimes he is alternatively called Albinus (and often identified with 6th c. bishop, Saint Albinus of Angers ) while at other times he is identified with the British martyr. Philip Thornhill [35] noted a correlation of Alban dedications with place names in Alb- (very common in mountainous areas, especially in ancient Liguria and also found in river names).

St. Pantaleon's Church, Cologne holds relics said to be those of the British martyr Alban (as noted above). In actual fact, although identified with the British martyr he was locally known as Albinus. His relics were said to have been brought from Rome by the Empress Theophano and placed in St Pantaleon’s church in about 984:[36] the relics were miraculously saved from destruction in an accident on the way at a place that, in a later version of 1502, was identified as Silenen in Switzerland.[37] The original record of this was in a twelfth century manuscript where it was alleged that the relics were actually those of the British martyr, having been delivered to Ravenna by Germanus, himself, and taken from there to Rome.[38] Another church at Cologne is known to have been dedicated to the British Alban from the twelfth century.[39]

The saint Alban of Basel is recorded in the Berne rescension of the Martyrologium Hieronymianum of circa 800: “Basilea civitate sancti Albani martyris”, where he would appear to be an independent local figure, being celebrated on the twenty fourth of August, although later identified with the Saint Alban of Mainz.[40]

St Alban of Mainz is recorded from 756.[41] He was regarded as a separate figure in sources from Raban Maur's early ninth century martyrology, including a 10th-century Life by Gozwin of 1060-2 [42] However Hippolyte Delehaye suggested he very probably represents, in origin, a localised version of the British martyr, since his feast date was recorded as June 21 in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum (just a day before that of the British one – who actually appears on the 21st and 22nd in early recensions).[43]

The story in Raban Maur associates Alban of Mainz with a martyred bishop, Aureus of Mainz and two other martyrs, Ursus and Theonestus [44] the latter of whom is said to have originated on the Greek island of Naxos, together with Alban. Thornhill [45] elaborates a theory which suggests that Theonestus (likely confused with a 7th c. bishop Theonestus of Phillipi and a bishop Theomastus associated with Mainz) represents “some kind of distorted mirror image of the name, ‘Dionysus’” - as appropriate to the leading ancient cult-figure associated with Naxos.[46] A Saint Alban of Burano (near Altino, in Italy), meanwhile was associated with one Domenicus in a legendary tale reminiscent of one told about Dionysus.[47]

Veneration[edit]

Alban is listed in the Church of England calendar for 22 June and he continues to be venerated in the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox Communions. In 2006 some Church of England clergy suggested that Alban should replace St George as the patron saint of England.[48] The Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius is also named in part after Alban.

Every year, during the weekend closest to his feast day, St Albans Cathedral hosts the "Alban Pilgrimage", with huge puppets re-enacting the events of Alban's martyrdom around the city of St Albans.[49]

Besides his abbey, churches in England dedicated to Saint Alban include St Alban, Wood Street in the City of London, one in Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex, another in Withernwick in the East Riding of Yorkshire, one in Swaythling, Southampton, one in Northampton, one in a Norwich suburb, OKone in Bristol, one in Tattenhall, Cheshire and another in Macclesfield, Cheshire. There is also St Alban's West Leigh near Havant in Hampshire, and the St Alban the Martyr Parish Church of Highgate, Birmingham (including Ark St Alban's Academy). Finally, there's a church dedicated to Saint Alban at Earsdon Village, Northumberland, which is the nearest one to Bede's Holy Island.

Veneration outside Britain[edit]

Churches and festivals dedicated to Saint Alban outside Britain include:

The Anglican St Alban's Church in Copenhagen, Denmark

Australia[edit]

Canada[edit]

Denmark[edit]

St Alban's Church in Copenhagen, Denmark, which is the city's only Anglican church. It was built to the design of Sir Arthur Blomfield and consecrated in 1887.[51] The connection with Denmark goes back to the Middle Ages where a church dedicated to Saint Alban was built in Odense. Supposedly, the relics of the saint had been brought here, maybe as early as the ninth century. It was in this church that King Canute IV of Denmark (Saint Canute) was murdered in 1086.[52] The original church no longer exists, but the Roman Catholic parish church of Odense, St Alban's Church, was consecrated in 1908.

Japan[edit]

The only English language-based church in the Tokyo Diocese of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (the Anglican Church in Japan) is dedicated to St Alban. It is fully called "St Alban's-by-St Andrew's", as it is located in the grounds of the Cathedral, St Andrew's.

The church was consecrated in 1956, although English language services in the Anglican tradition have been conducted where the St Alban's building now stands since 1879.

New Zealand[edit]

There are at least two churches dedicated to the saint on New Zealand's North Island: the Church of Saint Alban the Martyr in Auckland, and St Alban's Church in Pauatahanui, a village within Wellington's metropolitan area.

South Africa[edit]

The Cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Pretoria in South Africa is dedicated to Saint Alban. The Diocese also has a St Alban's College, a private boarding school/day school for boys which was founded in 1963.

Switzerland[edit]

The "Albanifest", a large annual festival held in Winterthur in the Canton of Zürich in Switzerland, is named in honour of Saint Alban, one of the patron saints of the city, and takes place in late June every year. Although a recent creation, the festival celebrates the granting of a charter to the town in 1264 by Rudolf of Habsburg on 22 June of that year, which happened to be the saint's day.

St Alban's Parish, Washington DC.

United States of America[edit]

The parish church of St Alban's Episcopal Church, the first Free Church[discuss] in Washington, D.C., was erected on Mount Saint Alban in 1854 using a bequest from a young woman, Phoebe Nourse, who earned the money sewing. St Alban's went on to found five mission churches in Washington, four of which still maintain active congregations of their own.[53] Washington National Cathedral, a cathedral of the Episcopal Church in Washington D.C., is located next to the parish church, which preceded the laying of the Cathedral's cornerstone by 53 years. The St Albans School for Boys, which is affiliated with and was established in 1909 soon after construction of the Cathedral began, is also named for the saint.

In 1972, a Chapel named after St. Alban was erected and later consecrated in the Sabino Catchment area of Tucson, Arizona. The chapel and congregation later became St. Alban's Church and Parish. It was in this church that the second Anglican female priest, and first female priest in Arizona, was ordained.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Thurston, Herbert. "St. Alban." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 19 Feb. 2013
  2. ^ Lane Fox, Robin (1986). Pagans and Christians in the Mediterranean World from the Second Century AD to the Conversion of Constantine. London, UK: Penguin Books. p. 273. ISBN 978-0-14-102295-6. 
  3. ^ Thornhill, Philip (2000) “The Sub-Roman Cult of Saint Alban” (“St. Alban and the End of Roman Britain Part 1”) in 'The Mankind Quarterly' 41, pp. 3-42. [1].(Revised Version [2])
  4. ^ Wood, Ian (2009). "Germanus, Alban and Auxerre". Bulletin du centre d’études médiévales d’Auxerre (BUCEMA). 13. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Prosper of Aquitaine, Prosperi Tironis Epitoma Chronicon, in Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH), Chronica Minora vol 1, 1892, Mommsen, Theodore, ed., Berlin: Weidemann pp. 385-485; Migne, Patrologia Latina vol.51 [3]; English trans. in "From Roman to Merovingian Gaul: A Reader" ed. & trans. A. C Murray (Ontario, 2003) pp. 62–76
  6. ^ pp.61-2 in Garcia, Michael Moises, "Saint Alban and the Cult of Saints in Late Antique Britain", Doctoral Thesis, 2010 The University of Leeds: Institute for Medieval Studies [4]; note 165 on p. 116 in Richard Sharpe. “Martyrs and Local Saints in Late Antique Britain”, in "Local Saints and Local Churches in the Early Medieval West", ed. by Alan Thacker and Richard Sharpe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 75-154.
  7. ^ Krusch, B and Levison, W 1920 Vita Germani ed, in MGH, Scriptores Rerum Merovingicarum VII, pp. 225-283; trans. in Hoare, F. R. (1965) The Western Fathers. New York: Harper Torchbooks
  8. ^ Sharpe, Richard (2001). "The Late Antique Passion of St Alban" in M. Henig and P. Lindley ed., "Alban and St Albans" (Leeds)
  9. ^ Meyer, Wilhelm (1898). Die Legende des h. Albanus. Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Antiquae et Media Aetatis (in German). Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, ed. 2 vols. I Subsidia Hagiographica.]; Meyer, Wilhelm1904 “Passio Albani” (Turin and Paris Texts, pp. 35-47) ed.., in Die Legende des h. Albanus, des Protomartyr Angliae, in Texten vor Beda.
  10. ^ Wood, Ian (2010) “Levison and St Alban", pp. 171–85 in "Wilhelm Levison (1876–1947). Ein Jüdisches Forscherleben ZwischenWissenschaft licher Anerkennung und Politischen Exil", ed. M. Becher and Y. Hen, Siegburg.
  11. ^ Garcia, op.cit.
  12. ^ Higham, Nicholas J (2014) “Constantius, Germanus and fifth century Britain” in 'Early Medieval Europe' 22 (2), pp. 113-37; cf Thornhill, Revised Version, op.cit [5]
  13. ^ p.10 in Thornhill, Revised Version, op.cit
  14. ^ Sharpe, Richard (2001). "The Late Antique Passion of St Alban". Alban and St Albans (Leeds). 
  15. ^ pp. 215-18 in Charles-Edwards, T.M (2013) "Wales and the Britons 350-1064", Oxford University Press
  16. ^ Wikisource "The Ruin of Britain"[6]; Winterbottom, Michael (1978) Gildas, the Ruin of Britain, text & trans., London/Chichester: Phillimore.
  17. ^ p. 347 in Levison, Willhelm “St Alban and St Albans” in 'Antiquity' 15, pp. 337-59; p. 73 in Garcia op. cit; pp. 175-6 in Wood 2010, op. cit.
  18. ^ Bede HE I,7. Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Internet History Sourcebook. Fordham University. Retrieved 3 November 2013
  19. ^ a b Wikisource:The Ruin of Britain
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Bede. "Ecclesiastical History of the English People". Internet History Sourcebook. Fordham University. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  21. ^ a b "Who was Saint Alban ?", Saint Alban's Episcopal Church, Wilmington, DE
  22. ^ a b "Medieval St Albans". Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  23. ^ a b Clark, Gillian (1999). "Victricius of Rouen: Praising the Saints". Journal of Early Christian Studies. 7 (3): 383. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  24. ^ p. 4 in Wood 2009, op.cit.; p.47 in Garcia op.cit.
  25. ^ a b Meyer, Wilhelm (1898). "Die Legende des h. Albanus". Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Antiquae et Media Aetatis (in German). Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, ed. 2 vols. I Subsidia Hagiographica. 
  26. ^ a b Butler, Rev. Alban. "St Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre, Confessor". www.bartelby.com. Retrieved 4 September 2014. 
  27. ^ Translation by Rev. James Ingram (1912). The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. London: Everyman Press. pp. Part 1: A.D. 1–748. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  28. ^ Thorpe, Geoffrey of Monmouth ; translated with an introduction by Lewis (1984). The history of the Kings of Britain (Repr. ed.). Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. p. 131. ISBN 9780140441703. 
  29. ^ Delehaye, Hippolyte (1931) (reconstruction of late 6th c. Auxerre ‘revised version’) Commentarius in Martyrologium Hieronymianum, ASS (Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists) Novembris ii, 2; (1931b) “In Brittania dans le Martyrologe Hieronymien” in 'Proceedings of The British Academy' 17; Duchesne (1894) (Bern, Epternach and other rescensions of Mart.H.) ASS, Novembris ii, 1; p. 122 in Sharpe 2002, op.cit.
  30. ^ Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, Project Gutenburg 
  31. ^ Morris, John (1968). "The Date of Saint Alban". Hertfordshire Archaeology. 1. 
  32. ^ "St Alban the Martyr", Orthodoxy's Western Heritage .
  33. ^ Sharpe 2001, op.cit.; pp. 349-50 in Levison 1941, op.cit; p.13 in Wood, Ian (1984) “The End of Roman Britain: Continental Evidence and Parallels” in M. Lapidge and Dumville, ed., 'Gildas New Approaches', Woodbridge: Boydell Press.
  34. ^ Lowe, W.R.L. (1914-15) pp. 58-67 (especially 60, 62 with maps) in 'Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London', 2nd Ser., vol 27.
  35. ^ Thornhill, Philip "The Continental Cult of Saint Alban" in 'The Mankind Quarterly', Vol XLI, 3 (Spring 2001) [7], Revised Version (Part III) [8]
  36. ^ p. 211 in Baker, E. P. (1938) “The Cult of St Alban at Cologne”, in 'The Archaeological Journal' 94.
  37. ^ Baker op.cit. pp. 212, 250
  38. ^ Baker op.cit. pp. 211-13
  39. ^ Baker op.cit. p. 338
  40. ^ Baker op.cit. p. 254; G.Allmang, 1366 in "Dictionnaire d’Histoire et de Geographie Ecclesiastique", ed A . Baudrillart, Paris 1912; G.B. Villiger, 655 in Bibliotheca Sanctorum, Istituto Giovanni XXIII, Pontificale Universate Lateranense
  41. ^ Levison 1941, op.cit. p. 338
  42. ^ 'Raban Maur’ in Migne, Patrologia Latina 110, saec IX, 1154. See also Attwater, Donald and Thurston, H.(1956) "Butler’s Lives of the Saints", 4 vols, 2nd ed., London: Burnes and Oates: II, 608; Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists: June V, 75-83; Allmang op.cit.1365.
  43. ^ Levison 1941 op.cit. p. 338; Delehaye 1931b, op.cit. pp.328, 330
  44. ^ 10th century Passio (ASS = Acta Sanctorum, 347-8) second, 11th century Passio (ASS 345-6). See also Antonio Niere, Bibliotheca Sanctorum, op.cit. pp. 354-8; ASS Oct XIII 335-48
  45. ^ Thornhill 2001, op.cit [9], Revised Version [10]
  46. ^ Farnell, Lewis Richard, V,135 in "The Cults of the Greek States", (1977) New York: Caratzsos Bros
  47. ^ ASS June V, 80-3; Daniele, Bibliotheca Sanctorum, op.cit. I , 721) Pausanius, "Description of Greece", III, 24.3
  48. ^ Doughty, Steve (2 July 2006), Will George be slayed as England's patron saint?, Daily Mail 
  49. ^ "St Albans cathedral website". 
  50. ^ Anglican Cathedral Church of St Alban the Martyr, Diocese of Riverina official website
  51. ^ "Online Sightseeing – Copenhagen". Copenhagen Portal. Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  52. ^ Abrams, Lesley (1996), "The Anglo-Saxons and the Christianization of Scandinavia", in Lapidge, Michael; Godden, Malcolm; Keynes, Simon, Anglo-Saxon England, 24, Cambridge University Press, pp. 240–241, ISBN 978-0-521-55845-7, retrieved 2 March 2010 
  53. ^ R. Kline, Church at the Crossroads: A History of St. Alban's Parish, Washington, D.C., 1854–2004, Posterity Press, 2005

References[edit]

  • Niblett, Rosalind (2001). Verulamium: The Roman City of St Albans. Tempus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7524-1915-3. 

External links[edit]