Puppets parade through St Albans city centre at Alban Pilgrimage
- Credit: Archant
Thousands of people gathered in St Albans city centre to celebrate the story of Britain’s first saint.
The Alban Pilgrimage was held on Saturday, June 22, with pilgrims from across the country parading through the streets, accompanied by giant puppets representing Saint Alban and Saint Amphibalus, a stranger who he saved from punishment.
Pilgrims walked from St Peter's Church to the cathedral, where special services were held, including an orthodox service, choir performances and guest preaching from David Ison, Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, and Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of Church History at Oxford University.
St Albans Cathedral also launched the city's first ever Roman Festival in the Abbey Orchard. The Ermine Street Guard held a live reenactment of a Roman battle, and visitors took part in medieval badge making and Roman pottery. Hundreds of people helped create a giant clay sculpture of the cathedral, guided by Dacorum and Chiltern Potters Guild.
Visitors to the cathedral were among the first to see its new welcome centre, which was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The cathedral also has a new exhibition area, which features a timeline, interactive screens, films, dressing up and brass rubbing.
During the pilgrimage, seven-year-old Alban Paye Gurney had the chance to meet his namesake puppet. Saint Alban was Britain's first Christian martyr, and died for his faith on the spot where St Albans Cathedral now stands.
The Very Rev Dr Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans Cathedral, said: "We have been overwhelmed by the positive response to our new welcome centre, exhibition and the opening events over the past week.
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"Thousands of people came out to celebrate St Alban's Day on Saturday at the Alban Pilgrimage and our very first Roman-inspired Alban Fest. We are looking forward to welcoming very many more visitors of all sorts and ages as the city's Roman Festival continues.
"The collaboration with partners across the city has been inspiring: we thank them all for their commitment and enthusiasm to share the wealth of history and experience that St Albans has to offer."
The Roman theme continued with the Alban Street Festival on Sunday.