St. Alban the Protomartyr of Britain (+251 or 257)
Commemorated on June 22
St. Alban was a Roman citizen who lived at Verulamium, a few miles northwest of London, during a time of persecution. Nothing is known about his family or his occupation.
Orders were issued to arrest all Christian clergy. One of them, a priest named Amphibalus, fled to St. Alban’s home in order to hide from the soldiers. St. Alban was impressed by the priest’s constant prayer and vigil, and so he questioned Amphibalus about his beliefs. As a result, St. Alban came to believe in Christ and asked to be baptized. St. Alban changed clothes with him so that he could get away. The soldiers seeing St. Alban dressed in the priest’s clothes, arrested him and brought him before the judge.
After questioning St. Alban, the judge discovered how St. Alban and the priest had switched clothes. Furious because he had allowed a fugitive to escape, the judge threatened him with death unless he returned to paganism and revealed where Amphibalus had gone. St. Alban replied, “I am also a Christian, and I worship the true God.”
After having St. Alban beaten and tortured, the judge threatened him with execution. St. Alban rejoiced and glorified God. Soldiers took St. Alban to beheaded. When they came to the river Ver, they saw that the bridge was crowded with people who had come to witness St. Alban’s martyrdom. Since they could not proceed because of the multitude of people, St. Alban prayed and made the Sign of the Cross over the river. At once, the waters parted so that they were able to cross over to the other side.
The executioner was so astonished by the miracle that he threw down his sword and refused to behead the saint. He was arrested, and another man was found to behead them both.
The date of St. Alban’s martyrdom is uncertain, but it is believed that it took place during the reign of Decius (ca. 251) or Valerian (ca. 257). The priest Amphibalus was ultimately caught and put to death.