Yesterday, I again visited St Albans Cathedral, this time with a friend.
Alban, the first English martyr, was beheaded for his Christian faith by the Romans on the hillside where the Cathedral now stands. According to legend the executioners’ eyes fell out when he struck off Alban’s head. The claim that miraculous healing took place at the site of his martyrdom spread and after 325, when Christianity was permissible, pilgrims gathered there.
In 429 St Germanus of Auxerre visited the area which is the modern day town of St Albans. He discovered Alban’s grave, a place where Christians have worshipped from then until the present day.
The first church, part of a Benedictine Abbey, was south of the present cathedral.
In the 8th century, the honourable Bede mentioned: the beautiful church worthy of Alban’s martyrdom where frequent miracles of healing took place.’ The monastic church he referred to was built on the command of Saxon King Offa whose wife converted him to Christianity.
Offa had successfully petitioned the Pope to canonise Alban. Afterwards the abbey and the settlement around it became known as St. Albans.