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Alban

From Academic Kids

See St Albans (disambiguation) for place names.
Alban can refer to people from Alba.
For the town in France, see Alban, Tarn.
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Saint Alban was the first Christian martyr in Britain. Though he is no longer listed in the Roman Catholic calendar, he continues to be venerated in the Anglican Communion. The first mention of St Alban is by Constantius, in his Life of St Germanus of Auxerre, written about 480.

According to Bede's Ecclesiastical History, I.vii and xviii, Alban was a pagan living at Verulamium (St Albans}, who converted to Christianity, and was executed by beheading on a hill above the Roman settlement of Verulamium. St Albans Abbey at St Albans, Hertfordshire, England was later founded near this site.

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Shrine of Saint Alban in St Albans Cathedral

The date of the execution is best left to the venerable Bede: "when the cruel Emperors first published their edicts against the Christians". In other words, sometimes after the publication of the edicts by Eastern Roman Emperor Diocletian in 303 and before the proclamation of the toleration Edict of Milan by co-ruling Roman Emperors Constantine I and Licinius in 313. The year 304 has been suggested.

Alban sheltered a Christian priest, (Geoffrey of Monmouth's later interpolation giving his name as "Amphibalus" the name for the cloak) in his home, and was converted and baptised by him. When the "impious prince" as Bede has it sent Roman soldiers to Alban's house to look for the priest, Alban exchanged cloaks with the priest and was arrested in his stead. Alban was taken before the magistrate, where he avowed his new Christian faith and was condemned for it. He was beheaded on the spot where St Albans Cathedral now stands.

A cult connected with Alban was already in existence in the 6th century, for Bede quotes a line from one of the Carmina of Venantius Fortunatus, Albanum egregium fcunda Britannia profert ("Fruitful Britain holy Alban yields").

Bede tells several legends associated with the story of Alban's execution. On his way to the execution, Alban had to cross a river, and finding the bridge full of people, he made the waters part and crossed over on dry land. And the executioner was so impressed with Alban's faith that he also converted to Christianity on the spot, and refused to kill him. Another executioner was quickly found (whose eyes dropped out of his head when he did the deed), and the first was killed after Alban, becoming the second British Christian martyr.

Feast day: June 22.

Some details added to St Alban's tradition come from confusing him with another St Alban, or Albinus, who was martyred at Mainz.

Alban is represented in art as carrying his head between his hands, having been beheaded.

External links

de:Alban von England pl:Święty Alban

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