|Died||disputed: 22 June 209, c.251 or 304|
Holywell Hill (formerly Holmhurst Hill),
|Soldier with a very large cross and a sword; decapitated, with his head in a holly bush and the eyes of his executioner dropping out|
|converts, refugees, torture victims|
Saint Alban (
Alban lived in
Alban was brought before a judge, who just then happened to be standing at the altar, offering sacrifices to "devils" (Bede's reference to pagan gods). When the judge heard that Alban had offered himself up in place of the priest, he became enraged that Alban would shelter a person who "despised and blasphemed the gods," and, as Alban had given himself up in the Christian's place, Alban was sentenced to endure all the punishments that were to be inflicted upon the priest, unless he would comply with the pagan rites of their religion. Alban refused, and declared, "I worship and adore the true and living God who created all things." (The words are still used in prayer at St Alban's Abbey). The enraged judge ordered Alban to be
Alban was led to execution, and he presently came to a fast-flowing river that could not be crossed (believed to be the
The other executioners hesitated to pick up his sword, and meanwhile, Alban and they went about 500 paces to a gently sloping hill, completely covered with all kinds of wild flowers, and overlooking a beautiful plain (Bede observes that it was a fittingly beautiful place to be enriched and sanctified by a martyr's blood).
When Alban reached the summit of the hill, he began to thirst and prayed God would give him water. A spring immediately sprang up at his feet. It was there that his head was struck off, as well as the head of the first Roman soldier who was miraculously converted and refused to execute him. However, immediately after delivering the fatal stroke, the eyes of the second executioner popped out of his head and dropped to the ground, along with Alban's head, so that this second executioner could not rejoice over Alban's death.
In later legends, Alban's head rolled downhill after his execution, and a well sprang up where it stopped. Upon hearing of the miracles, the astonished judge ordered further persecutions to cease, and he began to honour the saint's death.