Monday, June 22, 2009
Feast of St Alban
After that Julius Caesar, the first emperor of Rome, had divided the land of France, he made a shipping in to Great Britain, which now is called England, in the time of Cassibelaun, king of the Britons. And twice he was driven out, and the third time by the help of one Androgeus, duke of Kent, he had victory and conquered the realm and subdued it to Rome, and made it to pay yearly tribute, and ordained and stablished certain statutes in this land which were long observed and kept. Among which he ordained that none of this land should receive the order of knighthood, but only at Rome by the hands of the emperor, lest peradventure the rude people and unworthy would take upon them that order unworthily, which is of great dignity, and also they should make an oath never to rebel ne bear arms against the emperor, which statutes were used in all places obedient to Rome and under their subjection. Then reigned in the land of Britain, which is now called England, a king named Severus, which for to please the emperor Diocletian, who sent his son that hight Bassianus with many other lords' sons, of Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, unto the number of a thousand five hundred and forty, among which was a prince's son of Wales in great array which hight Amphiabel, a goodly young man, and well learned in Latin, French, Greek, and Hebrew. Also there was in his fellowship a lord's son of the city of Verulam named Alban, which was a well disposed and seemly young man, and discreet in his governance. And all this fellowship came prosperously to Rome in the time when Zephyrus was pope of Rome, which saw the great beauty of this young company, and had compassion that they were not christian, and laboured as much as he might to convert them to the faith of Jesu Christ.
And among all other he converted the prince's son of Wales, Amphiabel, and baptized him, and informed him secretly in the faith. And then this holy Amphiabel forsook the pomp and glory of the world, and took on him wilful poverty for the love of Jesu Christ, and ever after continued his life in perfection. Also there were many other converted at that time whom Diocletian did do seek, but none could he find. Then he ordained a day in which these young men should receive the order of knighthood of the emperor's hand; and he himself girded their swords about them and informed them the rule and estate of the order. And when all the ceremonies were done longing to the order, and the oath sworn, Bassanius, son of king Severus, desired of the emperor that he might prove the feats of knighthood there in jousting and tourneying, which was granted to him and greatly allowed for his manly desire and noble request. In which tourney and jousts Bassanius and his fellowship had the prize and victory. And among all other, Alban was the best knight, and most best proved in strength, wherefore he had a sovereign name tofore all other, whose arms were of azure with a saltire of gold, which arms afterward bare the noble king Offa, first founder of the monastery called Saint Albans, and he bearing those arms had ever glorious victory, and after his death he left those arms in the monastery of Saint Alban. Then, when Bassanius and his fellowship had long sojourned in Rome, they asked licence of the emperor to return home into Britain, which the emperor granted to them all, save to Alban, whom for his manliness and prowess he would retain for to be in his service about his person, and so he abode with him there seven years. And after, for divers causes, Maximian, which was fellow to Diocletian was sent in to Britain with a great army for to subdue the rebels, with whom Alban came and was ordained prince of his knights, and so entered into Britain again. In that time Saint Pontian sat in the see at Rome, which by himself and virtuous men that preached, and by showing of miracles, converted unto the faith of Jesu Christ and christened in the city of Rome sixtysix thousand men.
The bookshop in the Cathedral Church of St Alban, now in Anglican hands, told me St Alban did not exist so they did not have any images of him.
His relics however rest behind the High Altar