Sanctus Albanus decapitatus,
The martyrdom of St. Alban from a 13th Century manuscript of The Life of St. Alban, circa 1250
Dublin, Trinity College Library, accession nr MS E. I. 40, folio 38r
© Trinity College, Dublin

Sanctus Albanus decapitatus,
The martyrdom of St. Alban from a 13th Century manuscript of The Life of St. Alban, circa 1250
Dublin, Trinity College Library, accession nr MS E. I. 40, folio 38r
© Trinity College, Dublin

Gospel of 20 June 2024

Saint Alban, First Martyr of England

Matthew 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘In your prayers do not babble as the pagans do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard. Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him. So you should pray like this:

‘Our Father in heaven, may your name be held holy, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us. And do not put us to the test, but save us from the evil one.

‘Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either.’

Reflection on the manuscript page

Saint Alban is venerated as the first-recorded British Christian martyr and, therefore, as the British protomartyr. Along with fellow Saints Julius and Aaron, Alban is one of three named martyrs recorded at an early date from Roman Britain. He is believed to have lived during the late 3rd or early 4th century in the Roman city of Verulamium, which is modern-day St Albans, Hertfordshire. Alban was a pagan Roman soldier who converted to Christianity. The pivotal moment in his life came when he sheltered a Christian priest, known as Amphibalus, who was fleeing persecution. Deeply moved by the priest’s faith and piety, Alban converted to Christianity and was baptised. When Roman soldiers came searching for the priest, Alban exchanged clothes with him to allow the priest to escape. As a result, Alban was arrested and brought before the Roman authorities. Despite being threatened, he refused to renounce his new faith. Alban was sentenced to death. As he was led to his execution, various miracles were reported, such as the drying up of a river to allow him to cross. At the execution site, a miraculous spring of water appeared, and the executioner's eyes reportedly fell out after he executed Alban. He was beheaded on what is now known as Holywell Hill, around AD 250.

This is the scene being depicting in our manuscript of circa 1250 AD. As the beheading takes place, the dove of the Holy Spirit is flying off, the soldier's eyes are popping out and the head is hanging on a tree. In legends, after his execution Alban's head rolled downhill and hung from a tree; below the head a well sprang up. Upon hearing of the miracles, the astonished judge ordered further persecutions to cease and he began to honour the saint's death. St Albans Cathedral now stands near the believed site of his execution on Holywell Hill and there is a well at the bottom of the hill.

The earliest mention of Alban's martyrdom is believed to be in Victricius's De Laude Sanctorum (The Praise of Saints), circa 396. Victricius had just returned from settling a dispute among the bishops of Britain. He does not mention Alban by name but includes an unnamed martyr, who, "in the hands of the executioners told rivers to draw back, lest he should be delayed in his haste." Saint Bede then gives a much fuller account in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, circa 730 AD.

Saint Alban. Pray for us.

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Thimas@
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Thimas@
25 days ago

I was watching “kiss of live ” performing “Midas touch” on u tube and my eyes nearly popped out 😄

Joseph Keppler
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Joseph Keppler
25 days ago

Beautiful reflection this morning, Father Patrick, one that models a Gospel excerpt, thank you.

Will Howard
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Will Howard
25 days ago
Reply to  Joseph Keppler

Hmmmm … and ‘how’ does it model Joseph?
That is if you don’t mind me asking.
Unless you mean in the broadest sense:
ie: ‘life as martyrdom is a halloweding of God’s name…the ultimate ‘need’ /desire that one has; one’s most perfect and essential prayer. ‘

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
26 days ago

We know St. Alban was a Roman soldier, but not where he came from. It could be that he came from what we now call Albania: “The name Albania is believed to be derived from the Albanoi, an Illyrian tribe which lived in what is today central Albania, from the second century BC.” It is thought that the priest whom Alban was protecting when he was martyred, Amphibalus, was also murdered at a later date. These are reputed to be the words Alban spoke when he was given the opportunity to recant: “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.

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
25 days ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

Thanks Noelle for yet more of the glorious details of St. Alban
And, HAPPY FEAST

As a ‘colonialee’, I think i can remember at least one “ST. Alban’s church” – “Anglican, in Toronto I believe – and experiencing then as a kid, something of a warming of the heart re: the ‘name’.

I think we are allowed to love the hagiographic lore of the Church’s martyrs – fiction or fact. And here I in now way advocate the narrow modern understanding of fiction as less than true – a subordinate history!

Reading Fr.’s commentary and looking at the illumination with all it’s figurative detail of the ‘fantastic’, I marvel at how the tradition and legends of the man ‘Alban’, comes to us – albeit via the fundamental facts of Faith. As per above re: Joseph, I reflect that so much of the West now regards the Gospel/the Lord’s Prayer as so much babble and archaic nonsense. Yet, in the highest irony, we of Faith, can only make sense of these increasing dire times of faithlessness and material madness/modernism -arguably with the highest historical integrity – from the most profoundest of statements: “Our Father, who is in Heaven …”

As fantastic, and indeed purely of the image/ figurative and ‘imagined’ projection onto the ‘unknowable God’, such a statement, mere words, indicates nonetheless the really-REAL encapsulated. The God-Man ‘dares to call/ NAME “G-o-d” His/Our “Father”!!! Yet Here is ‘Modeled’ (re: Joseph) the aspiration/assent of true Art. Not simply the attempts to mirror a passing world of the vain/finite impressions ‘of Man’, but pushing up and through to – I know I’m a skipping recored here – ” the Beautiful, the Good, the truly-TRUE.”

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
26 days ago

Why St. Alban isn’t England’s patron saint is a mystery, he is home-grown and well attested. The Cathedral Abbey is magnificent, with the longest nave of any English cathedral.
It’s a huge relief to be reminded that God knows what I need before I ask. After acknowledging our Father, we are to ask for food and forgiveness, both for ourselves and others. (Forgive me, but talking of food, do you know you can make delicious mayonnaise with hard-boiled eggs, so easy!)
I love these medieval manuscript illustrations. So economical, yet so vivid in their story-telling. I just wonder what is at the top of the cross the saint is holding, it looks like a symbolic head.
Here in the south-west we have cloudless skies, a blessing and a joy for our farmers.
Have a beautiful longest day of the year.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
26 days ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

Very good point Noelle about our patron saint. Couldn’t we change it? Also there is St Pancras who seems a good fellow.

I did not know that about hard boiled eggs. I bought two bottles of mayonnaise in ASDA the other day. One was described as mayonnaise and the other as real mayonnaise. I plan to compare them…

I was told the sauce was invented in Mahon, the capital of Minorca, as there was no dairy produce available to make sauces. True? Probably not!

Elvira
Member
Elvira
26 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Indeed Chazbo!!. In Mahon is claimed, “mahonesa” not “mayonnaise”

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
26 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

There, ’tis Minorcan indeed. The “English” version: You just need a blender to liquidise the eggs with olive oil, wine vinegar, some water for consistency, salt, pepper, mustard, and a clove of garlic. I add a load of herbs from the garden. Use as a spread on bread/toast, or make slightly more liquid for a mayonnaise. So much nicer than bought! And less risky than using raw eggs, if anyone is prone to a bad reaction. 🥣

Elvira
Member
Elvira
25 days ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

Your recipe is very similar to mine…I use it for many dishes…. The problem with mahonese are raw eggs…. The intense heat favors the proliferation of bacteria and certain emulsions such as sauces and mayonnaise, become a source of risk for the development of infections such as salmonellosis, which can lead to serious poisoning. However it is a salsa that we enjoy a lot in summer….. , I love it!!! . I’ve ever made eggless mahonese…for meals and outdoor celebrations…

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
25 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

I got ill in Madrid after eating ensaladilla rusa one summer, luckily not very! Eggless mayonnaise with – cream cheese?

Elvira
Member
Elvira
25 days ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

Oooh, poor Noelle…every summer we learn of some case of intoxication… We must be very careful…
For “lactonnaise”: One part milk per two of oil:100ml of milk per 200ml of oil, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and salt

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
25 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

a mi no me gusta esta receta!!

Elvira
Member
Elvira
25 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Ja ja ja …Amigo mío..¿por qué no te gusta? ¡¡¡Es vegana!!

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
25 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

No me gusta la leche en una ensalada. Me parece una cosa del norte de Europa – quizas alemana. En el Mediterraneo aceite y vinagre son los ingredientes con los huevos!!

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
26 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Do we want a saint who would seem to be named after a railway station? !!

Elvira
Member
Elvira
26 days ago

A son has “something” that his father/mother cannot resist, without being able to explain well why…. So is this being a father/mother…. To God also happens….. Jesus gave us the secret, teaching us to pray, starting with that magic word that can do everything, if we say it with the heart: “FATHER”. It doesn’t matter how many words we say. It doesn’t matter if the sentences have meaning or literary beauty. What matters to Him is that it is we, His children, who address Him.
A “Our Father”, prayed as an act of love and dedication, takes from God what we need most. Each of his words can help us to make a new prayer, because it contains the deepest truths of our faith. That He is our Father; and it follows that He loves us, that He listens to us, that He cares for us, that He waits for us in heaven. That our life has meaning in seeking his glory, in establishing his Kingdom in the world, in fulfilling his will. Who takes care of the dangers and gives us the food and spiritual strength we need to walk the path to Him.
Perhaps from a very young age we have been repeating, with greater or lesser devotion, the great prayer of the Christian. But without a doubt, every time we do, God “interrupts all His occupations” to listen to us and serve us as the best of parents.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
26 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

Thank you Elvira. So good to know that He listens to us whenever we speak to him.

I think I may have mentioned previously that some rabbis ask their congregations to pray the Lord’s Prayer. They find it compatible with their faith.

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
26 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Didn’t know that, Chazbo, interesting.

Elvira
Member
Elvira
25 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Very interesting what you say about the rabbis and the Lord´s Prayer. A prayer very related to the Torah…. Jews and Christians have many things in common…. Matthew’s The Lord´s Prayer is part of a catechesis for converted Jews. Jesus summarizes all his teaching in seven prayers addressed to the Father. In these seven petitions, he took up the promises of the Old Testament and asked the Father to help him realize them. The first three talk about our relationship with God. To restore the relationship with God, Jesus asks (a) the sanctification of the Name revealed in the Exodus on the occasion of the deliverance from Egypt; (b) He asks for the coming of the Kingdom, awaited by the people after the failure of the monarchy; (c) He asks the fulfillment of the Will of God, revealed in the Law that was at the center of the Covenant. The Name, the Kingdom, the Law: they are the three axes drawn from the Old Testament that express how the new relationship with God should be. The other four have to do with our relationship with others. The four petitions are: Bread, Forgiveness, Victory, Freedom. Also closely related to the Old Testament and therefore present in the books of the Torah… The “Daily Bread” petition recalls the manna of every day in the desert. The request for “forgiveness of debts” recalls the sabbatical year that obliged creditors to forgive debts to brothers. The goal of the sabbatical year and the jubilee year was to undo inequalities and start over. The petition “do not fall into temptation” recalls the mistakes committed in the desert, where the people fell into temptation

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
25 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

You are so learned and interesting Elvira!

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
26 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

An inspiring meditation, Elvira, thank you. Hope you got my thanks for your recipe the other day. 💐💐🥐

Elvira
Member
Elvira
25 days ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

I hope when you bake the rolls you tell me how they’ve been…👩🏻‍🍳🥯😋 I made them when the children were small…, I don’t make them for a long time

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
26 days ago

I read this on another site today:
When you make the choice to forgive another, and if your feelings do not immediately follow after, keep forgiving them in your heart. Pray for them. Try to change the way you think about them. Do not dwell upon the hurt that they have inflicted. Think, instead, about their dignity as a person, the love God has for them and the love you must continue to foster for them. Forgive, forgive and forgive again. Never stop and never tire of this act of mercy. If you do this, you may even discover that your feelings and passions eventually align with the choice you have made.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
26 days ago

Marvellous!

Elvira
Member
Elvira
26 days ago

Your words with great content….🧡 and great depth

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
25 days ago

Thank you, Patricia, inspiring words.

Rosemary Hart
Member
Rosemary Hart
25 days ago

I’ve copied that to keep and remember. Thank you, Patricia!

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
26 days ago

What a fascinating image we have this morning. It is full of life and vigour. I suspect once the colours were splendid too. The tree is very stylised but graceful, with its curly branches, and the martyrs blood dripping from his head suspended securely on a branch- it seems to have attached itself with no mortal help!
On either side of the tree the men are packed in- maybe too many faces for the amount of bodies? Some hold spears which poke beyond the frame and their clothing is very well drawn and flows naturally.
In the centre the executioner captures his eyeballs in his hand whilst his surcoat flows behind him. Between him and the saint flies the Holy Spirit with a small halo, and wings out signifying flight.
On the right a man bends down to take a cross from Alban’s hand, his body seemingly suspended prior to crashing to the ground.
What a wonderful piece of illustration and a truly marvellous story.

I was told about Saint Alban in my early school days. A neighbouring school and parish are named after him, so he became very familiar.
The painting has captured my attention much more than the Gospel, which is very familiar but should never be taken for granted.

Saint Alban of Britain pray for your country and its citizens as we move towards making important decisions very soon. Help us to be wise and compassionate in our choices, and ever grateful for the privileges which were bought for us by yourself and so many other holy martyrs, and all given to us by the grace of Almighty God.

Last edited 26 days ago by spaceforgrace
Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
26 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Saint Pancras was also martyred at this time by Diocletian but this was in Phrygia – nowhere near England.

For some reason there is a huge railway station in London named after him. They tried to change its name to London Central but there was a big outcry and the idea was dropped.

Our cook in Spain had a little statuette of San Pancracio that she used to keep in the fridge. He came out on the day that the lottery draw was on the television. If her number didn’t come up he went back in the fridge or if she felt really let down by him he might have a spell in the freezer!!! Lol!

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
26 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Wonderful snippet, Chazbo. ¡Qué divertido es!

Elvira
Member
Elvira
25 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

La historia de vuestra cocinera en España es buenísima…🤣🤣🤣 That San Pancracio is lucky for the lottery I knew…. but that the poor saint has to be in the refrigerator going cold…. ¡¡¡Es una pasada!!!❄❄❄

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
25 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Amen, and thank you, SfG.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
26 days ago

This is a quote from a very good historical fiction writer who I used to enjoy when I was a lad! Rosemary Sutcliff who wrote ‘The Eagle of the Ninth’. This quote refers to the end of Romano-Britain in the light of the Anglo-Saxon invasions. It could easily be repurposed for today and with reference to another cultural fade (hope I’m not being too downbeat?).

“I sometimes think that we stand at sunset…It may be that night will close over us in the end, but I believe that morning will come again. Morning always grows again out of the darkness, though maybe not for the people who saw the sun go down. We are the Lantern Bearers my friend; for us to keep something burning, to carry what light we can forward into the darkness and the wind.”

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
26 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

My grandson had this book bought for his last birthday! I remember Rosemary Sutcliffe very well, like you I grew up on historical fiction. I recently went back to my childhood library and found it an emotional experience as I spent so much time in there. It hadn’t changed much either, much to my delight!
I shall have to ask my grandson if he’s read it yet!

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
26 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Doubt it SFG. Young people don’t read much today although your grandson might be an exception.

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
25 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Have you lived in the same area most of your life, SfG? I’ve lived in about 26 different houses, not counting moving around a lot before I was 4 yrs old. I count people who have roots very fortunate….. but I know I’m in good company. 🏚

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
26 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Agreed, Chazbo, one of my favourites as a child, and many thanks for that great quote.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
26 days ago

A fine story of an early believer. It’s a shame that St Alban’s is such a dull city! 🫣

Alys Blakeway
Member
Alys Blakeway
26 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

I quite like St Alban’s and the Cathedral is fascinating.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
26 days ago
Reply to  Alys Blakeway

I have never been but feel I should go…

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
26 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

It should actually be a far more noted place of pilgrimage, don’t you think? I might go…

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
26 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Really worth a visit, SfG, and a very lively church community.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
26 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Do go Alys – it’s not dull, it’s really interesting. !

Monica Doyle
Member
Monica Doyle
26 days ago

First time hearing of St. Alban! A great man by the sounds of it. Am struck by Our Lord’s words this morning.. “Your Heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask… “ Pure trust.. Can that be my grace for today Lord please? To believe your words…Thank you 🌻

Elvira
Member
Elvira
26 days ago
Reply to  Monica Doyle

I had not heard of Saint Alban either… He lived in the same years as the brothers Saint Mark and Saint Marcellian…, who were quoted by Jamie… , all three died in different places during the Roman persecutions at the time of Emperor Diocletian. We know St Marcellian here…, in fact I have a good friend named…

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
26 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

There are a surprising number of men named Alban, from France, Germany and England, among other countries, including priests and sportsmen. Don’t know any Marcellian, though Marcel is fairly frequently given. 😊

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
25 days ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

Does Albion come from Alban?

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
25 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

“A poetic or literary term for Britain or England (often used in referring to ancient or historical times). Recorded in Old English, the word comes from Latin and is probably of Celtic origin; ultimately related to Latin albus ‘white’, in allusion to the white cliffs of Dover.” Thanks, Prof. Google.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
25 days ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

oh!

Elvira
Member
Elvira
25 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

To me the term Albion reminds me of its pejorative use… «The perfidious Albion» is a pejorative expression used to refer to England (or the United Kingdom) in anglophobe or hostile terms. It was widely publicized by the repeated use of Napoleon Bonaparte in the so-called «Napoleonic wars» or «Coalition wars» during the years he ruled in France.

Last edited 25 days ago by Elvira
Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
25 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

True – Napoleon was not fond of this country but we called him ‘the thief of Europe!’

Spain tied down a huge French army for years – up to one million men.

Elvira
Member
Elvira
25 days ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

Aquí yo conozco a: Marcelo, Marcial, Marciano, Marcelino, Marceliano y en femenino a Marcela, Marcelina…

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