First Female Diocesan Bishop Joins the Alban Pilgrimage 2017

On Saturday 24th June, thousands will take to the streets for St Albans Cathedral’s Alban Pilgrimage – a unique event which tells the remarkable story of Alban, Britain’s First Saint.

Joining the procession this year is the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, who, in 2015, became the first female diocesan Bishop in the Church of England and the first female Bishop in the House of Lords. She will preach at the Festival Eucharist service which takes place immediately after the Pilgrimage procession has ended.

The Alban Pilgrimage takes place annually and is held in honour of the city’s namesake, St Alban, who died on 22nd June over 1700 years ago. He was executed for giving shelter to a Christian priest later 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 executed on the hill where St Albans Cathedral now stands.

Stunning 12-ft tall carnival puppets and a procession of around 300 children, teenagers and adults from the local community dramatize the tale of Alban’s martyrdom, with the final scene taking place at the West End of St Albans Cathedral, the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain.

Bishop Rachel said “I am greatly looking forward to preaching at the Alban Pilgrimage Festival Eucharist and experiencing this special and historic occasion.”

The Cathedral is also delighted to welcome this year the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, who writes on Christianity and contemporary culture and will preach at Festival Evensong at 4pm.

Professor Percy said “Having grown up attending the Alban Pilgrimage as a member of my church youth group in Chorleywood, I am delighted to be returning to preach at Evensong on this special day.”

The Alban Pilgrimage starts at 11am 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 12noon and Festival Evensong at 4pm.

The Pilgrimage is a part of the Alban Weekend 2017 - a special weekend for the city showcasing over 2,000 years of history and remarkable heritage.



Notes to Editors

The Alban Pilgrimage 2017 - Full Programme

11am Pilgrimage Procession begins through the City Centre. The route begins from St Peter’s Church, St Albans and continues past the Clock Tower ending at the West End of the Cathedral. 

Immediately following the Pilgrimage Procession Festival Eucharist takes place.

Preacher: The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester.                                 

The service will be sung by the Abbey Girls Choir and Men of the Cathedral Choir.

12noon Children’s Worship and Activities. In the marquee, situated in the Cathedral Grounds.

2pm Orthodox Service and Veneration of the Relic at the Shrine of St Alban Organised by the Ecumenical Chaplaincy.

3pm Anointing for Healing in the Lady Chapel.

4pm Festival Evensong and Procession to the Shrine.                                        

Preacher: the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford.    

The service will be sung by the Cathedral Choir. 

  • The Pilgrimage puppets were researched and created by carnival specialists, Mahogany.
  • The Alban Pilgrimage takes over 12 months to plan and involves hundreds of volunteers and children from the local area.



The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester

Bishop Rachel was brought up in Hertfordshire and was educated at Broxbourne School. She was consecrated as the 41st Bishop of Gloucester at Canterbury Cathedral in July 2015 and formally began her new role in September 2015. She entered the House of Lords in October 2015. She currently campaigns to raise awareness of the body image issues of young people as a result of pressure from social media, television and advertising.

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The Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford

Martyn Percy is Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. He is also Professor of Theological Education at King’s College London, and Professorial Research Fellow at Heythrop College London. An Honorary Canon of Salisbury Cathedral, he has served as curate at St. Andrew’s, Bedford, and Chaplain and Director of Studies at Christ’s College, Cambridge before being appointed as Director of the Lincoln Theological Institute 1997. He was a Canon of Sheffield from 1997-2004, and Canon Theologian of Sheffield from 2004-10. He moved to Oxford in 2004 to take up his current position at Cuddesdon.


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