The 125th year anniversary of Lodge St Alban which occurred in 2015, gave cause to reflect on the man behind the name of our Lodge. There are various stories about St Alban but the following seems to be a fair account.
A man called Alban, believed to have been a Romano-British citizen of the Roman town of Verulamium around the end of the 3rd century, gave shelter to an itinerant Christian priest, later called Amphibalus. lmpressed by what he heard Alban, was converted to Christianity by him
When a period of persecution, ordered by the Emperor, brought soldiers in search of the priest, Alban exchanged clothes with him, allowing him to escape and it was Alban who was arrested in his place.
Standing trial and asked to prove his loyalty by making offerings to the Roman gods, Alban bravely declared his faith in “the true and living God who created all things.” This statement condemned Alban to death. He was led out of the city, across the river and up a hillside where he was beheaded.
Before Germanus’ 1 visit to Britain (c. 429 AD), ‘Alban” was an unnamed saint about who little was known. Germanus had a brief story recorded, possibly simply painted on the walls of the basilica at Auxerre, from a vision of St Alban he had. So from here we have the first written recording or beginnings of the medieval text, Passio Albani, and the impetus for sainthood.
As with all good stories, the St Alban legend grew with time, and by the 8th century we read that the river miraculously divided to let Alban pass and a spring of water appeared to provide a drink for the saint. The chronicler of that time also adds that the executioner’s eyes dropped out as he beheaded the saint, a detail that has often been depicted with relish since. St Alban was buried in or near the Roman cemetery to the south of the present Abbey Church and Cathedral in St Albans Hertfordshire. This is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain, a good 300 years before St Augustine went to Canterbury!
St Alban’s martyrdom is particularly remembered on and around 22nd June each year.
1 Saint Germanus of Auxerre
French Germain born c. 378, Autissiodurum, Gaul [now Auxerre, France]—died c. 448. A Gallic prelate who was twice sent on crucial missions to England that helped effect the consolidation of the British church.
In 418 he was successor to Bishop St. Amator of Auxerre, after which his life dramatically changed to that of an ascetic. Near Auxerre he founded the Monastery of SS. Cosmas and Damian. Concurrently, Pelagianism. a heresy that stressed the essential goodness of human nature and the freedom of the human will, was spreading through Britain, causing an ecclesiastical upheaval there. In 429, in reply to an appeal for help by the British bishops, Pope St. Celestine I deputed Germanus to combat the Pelagian heresy in Britain. The fervent campaign was successful: according to tradition, they victoriously debated Pelagianism at Verulamium (later St. Albans in Hertfordshire). Germanus returned to Auxerre, where he built St. Alban’s Church. However, Pelagianism persisted in Britain, and in 447 Germanus was asked to return there and exterminate the heresy. With the aid of Bishop Severus of Trèves, his second mission succeeded in ending Pelagianism in England and banishing its advocates.