St Albans pilgrimage to celebrate Britain’s first saint

The Alban Pilgrimage will reenact the story of Britain's first saint through the streets of St Alban

The Alban Pilgrimage will reenact the story of Britain's first saint through the streets of St Albans. Picture: Richard Gillin - Credit: Archant

Pilgrims will parade through the streets of St Albans this month to commemorate the martyrdom of Alban, Britain’s first saint.

The annual Alban Pilgrimage will be held on St Albans Day, Saturday, June 22, and will feature a procession and worship to celebrate the identity of the city.

Alban was a Romano-British citizen who died for his faith on the spot where St Albans Cathedral now stands, after giving shelter to a Christian priest fleeing persecution.

The story of his martyrdom will be reenacted by 12-foot-tall carnival puppets along with hundreds of local children and young people, starting at St Peter's Church at 11am. All are welcome to follow the procession as it makes its way to the Cathedral.

Services will take place throughout the day, including an orthodox service and services from the Cathedral choirs. This year guest preachers David Ison, dean of St Paul's Cathedral, and Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of Church History at Oxford University, will join in the celebrations.

Professor MacCulloch said: I'm delighted to join the Dean and the congregation of St Albans Cathedral in this happy commemoration, which brings so many people together to connect with the long heritage of Christianity in these islands, and to celebrate how full of surprises and diverse experiences the Christian past can be."

This year the pilgrimage is particularly significant as it forms part of the Roman Festival, a city-wide celebration of St Albans's Roman heritage taking place between Friday, June 21 and Sunday, June 30. The festival will feature an array of family events and has been organised by St Albans Cathedral and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

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Likewise, this year's pilgrimage coincides with new developments and renovations to the Cathedral building. The Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, dean of St Albans Cathedral, said: "St Alban's story of faith, courage and Christian witness remains at the core of all we do at the Cathedral and is an integral part of the identity of the city today.

"We look forward to welcoming both pilgrims and local people to this annual celebration of Britain's first saint - particularly as we open the Cathedral's new welcome centre and exhibition area this summer."