Thoughts for the Day

Thursday, 22nd June 2023: Saint Alban, First martyr of Britain

Martyr Saint Saint Alban John 12

Reading : Verses from John, Chapter 12

Saint Alban

Jesus said,' Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour'.

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


Alban was a citizen of the Roman city of Verulamium (now St Albans in Hertfordshire) who gave shelter to a Christian priest fleeing from persecution, hiding him in his house for several days. Greatly influenced by his devotion to prayer, Alban received instruction from the priest and was converted. When the priest's hiding place was discovered, Alban dressed himself in the priest's cloak and was arrested in his place. Tortured by the Roman authorities, Alban refused to renounce his faith. He was beheaded on this day, in the year 250 CE, and so became t8he first British martyr. His shrine stands today as a place of pilgrimage in the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban.* Along with fellow Saints Julius and Aaron, Alban is one of three named martyrs recorded at an early date from Roman Britain

Jesus said: "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit". We know almost nothing of Saint Alban, other than his conversion to Christianity and his death. Christianity was slow in coming to Britain as a whole (until the 5th and 6th centuries), competing with many pagan deities, and they were not represented by a Bishop at the first Council of Nicea in 325 CE. However, as traders and travellers brought it into the land, the stories around Alban would have begun to bear fruit.

Perhaps the most important thing to note is that Alban was converted because of the priest's 'devotion to prayer'. I am left with a question today. Would our devotion to prayer convert anyone?

* From 'Exalting Holiness' Collects and Readings for Festivals of the Church of England.


Collect for Saint Alban

Eternal Father,
when the gospel of Christ came to Britain
you gloriously confirmed the faith of Alban
by making him the first to wear a martyr's crown:
grant that, following his example,
in the fellowship of the saints
we may worship you, the living God,
and give true witness to Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Follow Up Thoughts

There is not much more about Saint Alban, though you could look at this site:

Or find out more about the Council of Nicea:

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