Archbishop of Canterbury joins this weekend’s Alban Pilgrimage

Procession pic plus puppets and Archbishop

Procession pic plus puppets and Archbishop - Credit: Archant

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will be joining crowds at this weekend’s Alban Pilgrimage and the launch of a new development project, Alban’s Angels.

Procession pic plus puppets and Archbishop

Procession pic plus puppets and Archbishop - Credit: Archant

He will join a procession of thousands on the streets of the city on Saturday for the pilgrimage, which retells the story of Alban, Britain’s first saint.

The procession, which attracts visitors, pilgrims and preachers from the UK and abroad, has become renowned for the spectacle of 12ft tall carnival puppets which are used to dramatise Alban’s story.

It travels through the city to St Albans Cathedral, the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain, and is accompanied by hundreds of local children and adults dressed as angels, centurions, lions, Roman soldiers and roses.

Alban died on June 22, over 1700 years ago, and the pilgrimage is held in his honour on the nearest Saturday to his death.

The Archbishop said, “As the earliest truth-teller for whom it cost his life, Alban is one of Britain’s greatest witnesses to Jesus.

“I am honoured to join the pilgrimage in the city that bears his name and to join in prayer for the witness of Christians faced with persecution today.”

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Canon Kevin Walton of St Albans Cathedral added, “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 Archbishop of Rouen, Mgr Jean-Charles Descubes, will also be at the Pilgrimage, his presence acknowledging the 900th anniversary of the current building which was completed and dedicated in 1115.

That dedication was carried out by notable bishops, including the then Archbishop of Rouen, in the presence of King Henry 1 and Queen Matilda.

The Alban Pilgrimage starts at 11am at St Peter’s Church, St Albans with special services at the cathedral throughout the day including the Eucharist at midday where the Archbishop will be the preacher.

The day also sees the launch of the public appeal to support St Albans Cathedral’s development project - Alban, Britain’s First Saint - which is designed to change the way people experience the cathedral with a new welcome centre, learning centre and telling of Alban’s story.

A host of activities are planned for all ages as part of the project, including exhibitions, talks, workshops and film screenings.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the cathedral has been fundraising since 2014 and is now launching its public appeal called Alban’s Angels to encourage individuals, schools, local churches, groups and clubs to get involved and help to transform the building.

The project will see an Angel Cloud installed in the cathedral, to be populated with a growing numbers of carved wooden angels as people sign up and support the fundraising scheme.

Membership of the scheme costs £25 and for each person who signs up, another angel will be added to the Angel Cloud in that individual’s name.

More information can be found at