Giant Carnival Puppets Retell the Story of Britain's First Saint, Alban, on the Streets of St Albans.
Thu, 19 June 2014
On Saturday 21st June, 12-foot tall puppets followed by a procession of thousands will make their way through the historic streets of St Albans, retelling the remarkable and moving story of Britain's first saint, Alban.
Attracting visitors, pilgrims and preachers from around the UK and abroad, the Alban Pilgrimage provides a unique and vibrant spectacle as it travels through the city to St Albans Cathedral, the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain. Onlookers will see stunning carnival puppets dramatize St Alban's story accompanied by hundreds of local children and adults dressed as angels, centurions, lions, roman soldiers and roses.
Alban died on 22nd June over 1700 years ago, and on the nearest Saturday to his death, a national pilgrimage is held in his honour. He 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.
Canon Kevin Walton said, "The story of St Alban not only belongs to the whole of our community, he is also Britain's first saint. We hope to welcome thousands for this great celebration and spectacle."
The Alban Pilgrimage starts at 11.00 at St Peter's Church, St Albans. Everyone is welcome to line the streets and take part. There are special services at the Cathedral throughout the day – Eucharist at 12.00, Preacher: Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church; Evensong at 16.00 - Preacher: John Bell of the Iona Community.
Notes to Editors
The Alban Pilgrimage 2014
- None of the detail is spared in this modern day retelling of St Alban's story. In accordance with accounts of St Alban's arrest and execution, as Alban is led to the place of his beheading a spring of water miraculously appears, and when Alban is put to death the executioner's eyeballs fall out.
- The procession makes 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.
- 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.
- The Alban Pilgrimage takes over 12 months to plan and involves hundreds of volunteers and children from the local area.
- St Albans City is named after Britain's first saint, St 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 St Alban each year.
- St Alban has been championed to replace St George as the patron saint of England.
- St Alban's Day is celebrated on 22nd June
St Albans Cathedral
- St Albans Cathedral stands on the site of St Alban's burial.
- It is the oldest place of continuous Christian worship in the country.
- 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, the shrines of St Alban and Amphibalus, and the longest nave in England.
- 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 Alban Weekend
- The Alban Pilgrimage forms part of a city-wide programme of events taking place on 21st & 22nd June to celebrate St Alban and the city's heritage and culture. For full details go to: www.enjoystalbans.com