Celebrate St Alban's Day at the Alban Pilgrimage 2013

Fri, 24 May 2013

On Saturday 22nd June the spectacular Alban Pilgrimage takes to the streets of St Albans as the city celebrates St Alban’s Day.

This unique and dramatic event sees 12-foot tall carnival puppets make their way through the heart of the city, retelling the remarkable and moving story of Britain’s first Christian martyr, Alban.

Over 1700 years ago, Alban was executed for giving shelter to a Christian priest named Amphibalus who was fleeing persecution by the Romans. Moved by the priest’s faith, Alban became a Christian and the two men swapped cloaks, enabling the priest to escape. Alban was arrested instead, brought to trial and beheaded on the hill where St Albans Cathedral now stands.

For the first time in its history, the Pilgrimage will also be filmed as part of a special BBC1 Songs of Praise programme scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday 28th July.

Visitors to the city on St Alban’s Day are encouraged to line the streets and see the story unfold as the colourful procession makes its way from St Peter’s Church, through the city centre to the Cathedral. Angels, centurions, lions, roman chariots, roses and executioners all play their part in this vibrant event which involves hundreds of local children and adults.

Canon Kevin Walton said, “We are really pleased with the support we have had for our plans to take our annual celebration to the heart of the city. In this way, the whole community will be able to join together in honouring the person who gave the name to this place.

This year the Alban Pilgrimage falls on St Alban’s Day itself, and we hope that many will come from near and far to join in a public celebration and witness, not only to the patron saint of this city and this diocese, but also to the first Christian martyr of our nation. His values of courage, faith and justice continue to inspire.”

The Alban Pilgrimage starts at 11.00 at St Peter’s Church, St Albans. This year’s preachers are the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam – 12.00 Eucharist, and the well-known Roman Catholic writer and speaker, Fr Timothy Radcliffe O.P. – 16.00 Evensong.

For the latest news on the Pilgrimage, follow Alban on Facebook or call 01727 890245.

Notes to Editors

The Alban Pilgrimage 2013

  • The Alban Pilgrimage takes over 12 months to plan and involves hundreds of volunteers and children from the local area.
  • For the first time, the procession will make its way through the heart of the city, starting at St Peter’s Church with Alban’s arrest, stopping at the Town Hall where Alban is put on trial, and ending outside St Albans Cathedral where Alban is executed.
  • The puppets were researched and created by carnival specialists, Mahogany. For 2013 Mahogany has designed a new Roman Magistrate puppet who sentences Alban to death.
  • In accordance with accounts of his execution, when Alban is put to death the executioner’s eyeballs fall out.
  • Silence will be kept when Alban is beheaded. The Dean of St Albans will then carry the puppet’s head into the Cathedral for the Eucharist.

Saint Alban

  • St Albans City is named after Britain’s first Christian martyr, Saint Alban. Before that, its Roman name was Verulamium.
  • Alban’s place of burial quickly became a national place of pilgrimage and thousands of people continue to visit the Shrine of Saint Alban each year.
  • Saint Alban has been championed to replace Saint George as the patron saint of England.
  • Saint Alban’s Day is celebrated on 22nd June.

St Albans Cathedral

  • St Albans Cathedral stands on the site of Saint Alban’s burial.
  • It is the oldest place of continuous Christian worship in the country.
  • Among the regular services at the Cathedral is the weekly celebration of Mass by the Cathedral’s Roman Catholic ecumenical chaplain. The ecumenical chaplaincy also includes Free Church, German Lutheran and Orthodox services.
  • The building itself is a blend of architectural styles spanning a millennia and contains recycled Roman bricks from Verulamium.
  • Of special interest are the 13th century wall paintings, a rare watching loft and the shrines of Saint Alban and Amphibalus.

The Alban Weekend

  • The Alban Pilgrimage forms part of a city-wide programme of events taking place on 22nd and 23rd June to celebrate Saint Alban and the city’s heritage and culture. A giant Street Party takes place on 23rd June with music and entertainment throughout the day. For full details go to:

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