St Alban

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The first martyr of Britain. Saint Alban was a Romano-Briton, living in Verulamium (now the city of St Albans). During the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian he is said to have sheltered a Christian priest, St Amphilbalus, who baptised him. When soldiers came looking for the priest, Alban dressed in his clothes to help him escape. He was arrested and after refusing to offer sacrifice, was killed by beheading in 209. One executioner was converted. Alban was beheaded by another - whose eyes are said to have fallen out after the event.

The cult of St Alban extended all over England and parts of France. Many churches were dedicated to him. Several shrines were built to him through the ages, making the city of St Albans a great pilgrimage centre.

His last shrine in the cathedral was partly destroyed during the Reformation, but has been painstakingly restored. The ancient shrine of St Amphilbalus, said to have evangelised St Alban, is also in the cathedral.

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