“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” — Tertullian
“I worship and adore the true and living God who created all things.” — St. Alban
Alban was a Roman soldier living in the south of England back in the early 300’s AD. He got to know a priest fleeing arrest during the persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, and Alban gave him shelter, hiding the priest in his home. Watching how the godly man lived inspired Alban to become a believer. When soldiers came to arrest the priest, Alban exchanged clothes with him, putting on his cloak, and was arrested in the priest’s place.
The following exchange between Alban and his judge is recorded in Bede’s “History of the English Church and People”:
“Because you have chosen to conceal a rebellious and sacrilegious person, rather than to deliver him up to the soldiers, that he might suffer the punishment due to him, for despising and blaspheming the gods — you shall undergo all the punishment, which was to have been inflicted on him, if you refuse to comply with the rights of our religion.”
But Alban, who had before voluntarily professed himself a Christian to the persecutors of the faith, was not the least intimidated at the judge’s threats; but, being armed with the armor of the spiritual warfare, plainly told him that he would not obey his commands.
“Then,” said the judge, “of what family and race are you?”
“How can it concern thee to know of what stock I am?” answered Alban. “If thou desirest to know what is my religion, I will tell thee – I am a Christian and am bound by Christian obligations.”
“I ask thy name, tell it me immediately.”
“I am called Albanus by my parents,” he replied, “and I worship and adore the true and living God who created all things.”
Then the judge said, “If thou wilt enjoy eternal life, delay not to sacrifice to the great [Roman] gods.”
Alban rejoined, “These sacrifices which are offered to devils are to no avail. Hell is the reward of those who offer them.”
The judge ordered Alban to be scourged, hoping to shake his constancy by pain. But the martyr bore the stripes patiently and even joyously, for our Lord’s sake. When the judge perceived that he was not to be overcome by tortures, or withdrawn from the profession of the Christian religion, he sentenced him to be beheaded.
The second Christian martyr in Britain was Alban’s executioner, who, hearing Alban’s testimony, became a believer and refused to execute him, choosing to die with him instead.