Desmond Tutu to lead Saint Albans festival pilgrimage

 This Saturday, Archbishop Desmond Tutu is coming to St Alban's, to lead the city's Annual Pilgrimage, held during the weekend closest to St Alban's feast day. In the 3rd century, St Alban, a Roman citizen, was put to death for his faith in Christ, on a hill above the town of Verulamium (present-day St Albans). He is remembered as Britain's first martyr. (See ICN Saint of the Day 20 June for more information.) The procession starts at 10.30am with a re-enactment of Alban's trial at the Verulamium Museum, the site of the old Roman forum. Then it passes in stages through the park and over the River Ver, and ends with Alban's execution on the Cathedral Orchard, as we enter for the Solemn Eucharist at 11.30am, led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Pilgrims traditionally wear a red rose, symbolising St Alban's blood. According to legend, the red rose sprang up as Alban passed by on the way to his execution. The rose is left at St Alban's tomb at the end of the pilgrimage as a sign of devotion, and as a request for his continued prayer as you journey home. Shrine prayers will be said at 2 and 3pm offering prayers in thanksgiving for the life and witness of Alban and praying for the needs and concerns of our world today. All pilgrims are welcome to attend these acts of worship either as a parish group or as individuals. The Festival is not only a stunning spectacle with a five metre high Alban, Roman soldiers, angels, roses and scores of other children in multicoloured costumes; it is a profoundly moving experience. St. Albans Abbey dates from 1077 and is the most recent in a series of churches to stand on what is almost certainly the most ancient site of Christian worship in Britain, with an unbroken history of prayer and worship stretching back over 1700 years. Whilst the Abbey is the Cathedral Church for the Anglican diocese of St Albans, Roman Catholic Mass is celebrated once a week, every Friday. For more information see

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