St Alban was a Roman soldier who was martyred in one of the imperial persecutions, possibly under Diocletian in 303 in the amphitheatre outside the Roman city of Verulamium. He is said, though a pagan, to have sheltered a Christian priest and then to have become a Christian himself. When the soldiers came for the priest, whose name was Amphibalus, Alban wore Amphibalus cloak and put himself forward to them to protect the priest.
St Alban was decapitated at the place where the cathedral now stands – but not before a he is said to have made the river moves back and return to let the saint cross over. Is the suggestion that the new martyr was the new Moses for Britain? He was buried in a martyrium which became the focus of the later town now called St Alban’s in Hertfordshire.
St Germanus of Auxerre visited his shrine in 429 where the sick were cured. St Bede states ‘To this day sick people are healed at this place and the working of frequent miracles to bring it renown’. The medieval shrine was shattered at the Reformation but has now been recovered and restored and a relic of a shoulder blade returned. The site of the holy well has been preserved on Holywell Hill.
Troparion in Tone 4
Thy holy martyr Alban in his struggle has gained the crown of life, O Christ our God;
for strengthened by Thee and with a pure heart he spoke boldly before worldly judges,
giving up his sacred head to Thee, the Judge of all.