During the persecution of the Christians, ordered by the Roman Emperor Diocoetian, which extended even to Britain, a Christian priest fleeing for his life, came to the house of a pagan named Alban, living in Verulam. Alban gave shelter to the fugitive, hiding him for several weeks and was so struck by the beauty of the religion he preached and practised that he was converted to Christianity.
After some time the Roman Governor of Verulam learnt that the priest was in Alban’s house and he sent soldiers to arrest him. Alban changed clothes with the priest and, having sent him away secretly, then gave himself up to the soldiers, who brought him to the Governor.
The Governor was very angry when he found that the prisoner was not the man he was searching for and demanded of Alban, “What is your name and race?” Alban replied, “How does my family concern you? Know that I am a Christian and bound by the laws of Christ.” “I demand to know your name,” said the Governor. “My parents named me Alban and I worship and adore the living and true God who created all things, and His Son, the Lord Christ.” This reply so incensed the Governor that he ordered Alban to be flogged, hoping to shake his constancy of heart, but when he saw that Alban could not be made to denounce God, he ordered him to be beheaded immediatly.
Alban was led away by the soldiers and a great crowd of people followed them to the place of execution. This was a hill, whose sides sloped gently down from the plain and were covered with many kinds of wild flowers, their beauty providing a worthy place for the Martyr’s death. there at the summit Alban met his death with gallantry and received the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him
By whose grace and power your holy Martyr Alban
triumphed over suffering and was faithful unto his death:
strengthen us with your grace,
that we may endure reproach and persecution
and faithfully bear witness to the name
Jesus Christ, your Son, Our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Note: The Statue of St Alban stood for nearly 100 years in a nitch on the front of the Rectory. When the Diocese of Chelmsford decided to sell the building, Denes Hitel, who was a chuchwarden at the time, moved fast to save the statue for the church. The statue now stands in the church and plays a central part in our Patronal festival.