Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Saint Alban

Latin: Albanus

He was the first-recorded British Christian martyr.

Saint Alban lived during the third or fourth century AD in the Roman city of Verulamium, located in present-day St Albans, Hertfordshire, England. He was believed to be a pagan at the time and served as a soldier in the Roman army. According to legend, Alban encountered a Christian priest who was fleeing from persecution and sought refuge in his home.

Through conversations with the priest, Alban became interested in Christianity and eventually converted to the faith. His newfound devotion led to a remarkable act of selflessness and bravery. When Roman soldiers came searching for the priest, Alban disguised himself in the priest’s cloak and presented himself instead, allowing the priest to escape.

Upon discovering the ruse, the Roman authorities were furious. Alban was arrested and brought before a judge who demanded that he renounce his Christian fate. Refusing to do so, Alban steadfastly proclaimed his belief in Christ. This defiance led to his sentencing and subsequent martyrdom.

According to the traditional account, Alban was taken to the hilltop where St Albans Cathedral now stands. There, he was executed, possibly by beheading, on June 22, though the exact year is uncertain. His martyrdom is said to have taken place during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, a period known for its intense persecution of Christians.

After his death, Saint Alban’s tomb became a site of veneration, and a small shrine was erected on the hill. Over the centures, the shrine evolved into the magnificent St Albans Cathedral, which became an important place of pilgrimage.