Copnor Parish Church of St Alban

The Story of St Alban

 

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“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His Life for us:

and we ought to lay down our life for the brethren” (1 John iii. 16).

 

In the year 287 A.D., in the town of Verulam in Hertfordshire, on the banks of the river Ver, a little boy was born. He was the son of very wealthy parents and so lived in a beautiful home. Alban, as this little boy was called, grew into a fine youth and was sent to Rome for an education, as were all wealthy children in those days.

 

Now the journey to Rome was then very different from the journey now, of course, for then there were no beautiful roads in Europe, except those built by the Romans in Rome itself. Those in England were mere cart-tracks. So, having experienced the hardships of the journey himself, Alban returned to England, when his schooling was at an end, full of knowledge and with the determination to open the doors to any traveller who came his way and give him lodging, a comfortable bed and good food.

 

He did so and for many months carried out this charitable service. One day a traveller, who was fleeing from persecution, came to the home of Alban, who, as was his wont, received the travel-worn stranger hospitably and learned from him that he was a Christian Priest and that he was called Amphibalus.

 

The piety and goodness of the stranger seemed to impress Alban and he would watch the Priest as he knelt in prayer in his little room, praying to his Lord to deliver the persecuted Christians and bring the Christians out victorious.

 

Alban one day asked the Priest to whom he prayed so earnestly, for alas, as yet he knew nothing about his Saviour, the Holy One of God, Who died for him on Calvary. The Priest proceeded to tell Alban all about the pure and Holy Life of Jesus on earth but Alban was angry and would not believe the story.

 

That night God sent a vision of the life of Jesus to Alban, who, mystified by the dream, told the Priest of it. He, knowing that God had sent the vision to Alban that he might believe and being full of the Light, explained the dream very carefully and Alban believed from that hour and was baptised and grew in the Faith.

 

When the Priest was ready to resume his journey, Alban changed clothes with him and endangered his own life rather than that of God's Priest.

 

A few days later, some Roman soldiers came and thinking that Alban was the Christian Priest because of his disguise, bound him and took him before the judge, who condemned him to torture and execution if he would not worship the heathen gods. Alban preferred to die for his Lord. Outside the court a crowd had gathered and St. Alban - (we will call him by his Eternal name now) - and his executioner were unable to pass over the bridge. They then went down to the stream under the bridge and there is a beautiful old legend which says that the waters parted and the two passed over dry-shod. At this, the executioner refused to behead St. Alban and was baptised and believed the Word.

 

However, a second soldier performed the horrible task and the legend runs that a little spring rose where the Holy and Righteous St. Alban died for his Saviour.

 

(The above version of the story of St. Alban was quoted from St. Alban's Parish Magazine of August 1927).


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