1902 Encyclopedia > St Alban

St Alban
Roman soldier and reputedly Britain's first saint
(died c. 300)

ST ALBAN, usually styled the protomartyr of Britain, was born at Verulamium, and flourished towards the end .of the third century. In his youth he took a journey to Rome in company with Amphibalus, a monk of Caerleon, and served seven years as a soldier under the Emperor Diocletian. On his return home he settled at Verulamium, and, influenced by the example and instructions of Amphibalus, renounced the errors of paganism, in which he had been educated, and became a convert to the Christian religion. It is generally agreed that Alban suffered martyrdom during the great persecution in the reign of Diocletian; but authors differ as to the precise date. Bede, who gives a full account of the event, fixes it in 286 ; some refer it to the year 296; while Usher reckons it amongst the events of 303. Between 400 and 500 years after St Alban's death, Offa, king of the Mercians, built a large and stately monastery near Verulamium to his memory, and around it the present town of St Albans was gradually erected.

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