Monday in the Fifth Week of Lent
March 27, 2023
Today’s Lenten reflection focuses on the life and witness of Saint Alban, one of the first British martyrs. Alban, who came from the city now named after him (St Albans), offered himself for execution in the place of a priest, a Roman who had converted to Christ and sought shelter from persecution with Alban. The story of Alban is a remarkable one. It not only takes us back to the beginning of the Christian faith in Britain and to a time when religious freedom was forbidden under Roman occupation, but it is also an astonishing account of standing up for one’s beliefs.
Alban lived in the early third century in the Roman city of Verulamium, just down the hill from where St. Alban’s Cathedral now stands today. One day he gave shelter to a stranger fleeing from Roman persecution. This stranger was a Christian priest, now known as Amphibalus. While sheltering the priest, Alban was inspired by how important faith was to the priest and asked to be taught more about Christianity. It was not long until the Roman authorities caught up with Amphibalus. However, Alban’s new-found faith would not allow him to let the authorities arrest the priest. Instead, Alban exchanged clothes with Amphibalus and was arrested, allowing the priest to escape. Alban refused to renounce his beliefs, stating, “I am called Alban, and I worship and adore the true and living God.” The Roman magistrate ordered that he should receive the punishment intended for the escaped priest. Upon this ruling, Alban was led out of Verulamium and up the hillside where he was beheaded. Alban is honored as Britain’s first native saint, and his grave on this hillside quickly became a place of pilgrimage. This story of an ordinary man doing an extraordinary thing for another has endured and continues to inspire people to this day.
In whose sight the death of your saints is holy,
And who gave Alban the grace
To lay down his life for another
Out of love for you,
Help us to follow him in the constancy of our faith,
That we may receive with him the crown of righteousness.