St. Albans is a city north-west of London and was, in Roman times, called Verulamium.
During this time Alban was a wealthy man. He was a pagan and worshiped the statue of the Emperor and other gods. He was a kind person and was always ready to help people in need.
Late one evening, a priest, trying to escape persecution, knocked at his door looking for shelter. Alban instructed his servant to take him in and gave him a good meal. Then Alban asked to meet the stranger. He had heard of Christians, but this was the first time he had met a priest. Even though it was very dangerous for him to give shelter to him, he could not bear the thought of turning him over to the Roman governor to be tortured.
Alban was touched by the holiness of this man. After several days in his company, he asked to receive instruction and to be baptised in the Christian faith. One day, they heard the soldiers approaching the house. Alban quickly exchanged clothes with the priest. When the soldiers entered they started searching one room after another and in the kitchen they found a man wearing the cloak of a priest. They seized him, thinking he was the priest, and brought him before the Governor. When they discovered it was Alban, the judge was furious. The Governor told Alban that he would suffer the persecution intended for the priest if he would not immediately worship and burn incense before the statute of the Emperor. Even though Alban had been doing this all his life, now that he understood what it meant to be a Christian, he refused.
Alban was flogged and tortured, but he still firmly confessed he was a Christian. In the end, the governor ordered his execution on the hill opposite the town. The executioner was so impressed by Alban's courage that he begged to die with him rather than kill him. The two men were put to death. After this, the Governor was so amazed by the bravery of the two of them that he stopped persecuting Christians.
This courageous act made Alban the first known martyr in England. It was his deep faith in God that made him hide the priest. God must have given Alban a sign to tell him that this man needed help, and so Alban obeyed God, even though this led to him being executed.
As Christians, we are all taught to do as much as we possibly can to help those in need. However, I do not think many of today's Christians would sacrifice their lives for somebody they did not know at all. Some might say it was a foolish thing to do, giving up your life for somebody you didn't even know, a possible criminal. Nevertheless, Alban thought that was what God was asking of him and he did it. This shows the great faith and trust Alban had in God.
Alban set a good example to those martyrs who would live after him. He laid down his life for his religion and was clearly so devoted to God that he would do absolutely anything for Him. Even though I do not think that very many people who are alive today would give their life for someone else, I do think that everyone can learn something from St. Alban. He was selfless and did not think of himself when he decided to protect the priest — it was his relationship with God that was all important.
Kate McGonagle, Year 9
St. Michael's Convent School, Barnet.