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Diocese of Antsiranana
(Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean)
Bishop Roger and the Very Revd Jeffrey John
Photo No. : P090626-1

Revd Mark Williams and Bishop Roger
Photo No. : P090626-2

Archbishop Robert Runcie's resting place
Photo No. : P090626-3

shrine of St Alban
Photo No. : P090626-4

Bishop Roger Chung Jaomalaza hosted by Canon H. Speers visits the Cathedral of St Alban with Revd Mark Williams of Barnet Vale and meets with the well known Dean of the Cathedral the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John.
June 26, 2009

[Diocese of Antsiranana - Indian Ocean] The Story of Alban
Alban lived (at some time during the 3rd century) in the Roman city of Verulamium. Although he was then a worshipper of Roman gods including the emperor, he gave shelter to a Christian priest fleeing from persecution. Influenced by the priest's prayer and teaching he became a Christian. When the authorities discovered the priest's hiding place Alban exchanged clothes with him. The priest escaped and Alban was bound and taken before the judge. The judge was furious at the deception, and ordered that Alban should receive the punishment due to the priest, if he had indeed become a Christian. Alban declared his Christian faith, saying in words still used here as a prayer "I worship and adore the true and living God, who created all things." Despite flogging he refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods and was sentenced to death. He was brought out of the town, across the river and up a hill to the site of execution where his head was cut off. Legend tells us that on the hill-top a spring of water miraculously appeared to give the martyr a drink; also that moved by his witness the original executioner refused to carry out the deed, and that after his replacement had killed Alban the executioners' eyes dropped out.This account is based on that of the Venerable Bede, who tells us that "when the peace of Christian times was restored a beautiful church worthy of his martyrdom was built, where sick folk are healed and frequent miracles take place to this day" (about 760). In later years the church also contained the shrine of Amphibalus, the priest whose life Alban had saved. Ever since those early times, people have journeyed to this place to remember Alban and all that he stands for. They have come to pray for peace and healing and to seek God. They came in such numbers in the early middle ages that St Albans became the premier Abbey in all England. They come here still. Among the roses of the martyrs Brightly Shines Saint Alban


Almighty God,
We thank you for this place built to your glory
and in memory of Alban, our first martyr:
Following his example in the fellowship of the saints,
may we worship and adore the true and living God,
and be faithful witnesses to the Christ,
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.


St Albans Cathedral
Saint Alban was Britain's first Christian martyr and worship has continued at the site of his execution for over 1700 years.
Alban, a citizen of Roman Verulamium, gave shelter to a Christian priest and was himself converted to Christianity. As he refused to renounce his new faith he was executed, most probably in the mid 3rd century, and buried on the hillside where the Cathedral now stands. His grave soon became a place of pilgrimage.
In 703 King Offa of Mercia endowed a Benedictine monastery on the site. The present Abbey Church was begun in 1077, using Roman bricks and flint from the ruined city of Verulamium at the bottom of the hill. Its massive 11th century bell tower is the only remaining example of its type.
In successive centuries the building has been enlarged and altered. It now has the longest nave in England, which displays the Romanesque arches of the 11th century, Early English arches from the early 13th century enlargement, and decorated arches from a rebuilding after a partial collapse in 1323.
In the nave and elsewhere there is a series of outstanding 13th and 14th century wall paintings, hidden after the reformation and rediscovered in the 19th century. The Presbytery has a unique 13th century wooden vaulted ceiling, which was redecorated in the 15th century.
The Shrine of Saint Alban was rebuilt in the early 14th century. It was destroyed at the reformation, but rediscovered and rebuilt in the 19th century, and restored in 1993. A rare survival, it remains a centre of ecumenical worship.
After the dissolution of the monastery in 1539 the Abbey Church was bought by the town as its parish church, and continues as such. During the following 300 years there were many changes. The 14th century Lady Chapel was divided off to become a school, and many parts of the building fell into disrepair. Repair and restoration began in the 1850s and the Lady Chapel was brought back into church use in 1870.
In 1877 a new diocese of St Albans was created and the abbey and parish church became also a cathedral, serving Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Luton and Barnet. Further restoration in the 1880s, under the direction of Lord Grimthorpe, substantially altered the outside appearance of the West End.
In the 1980s a new building was erected on the site of the monastic chapter house to provide visitor facilities, office space, and rooms for parish use. A modern interpretation of a monastic night stair provides a processional way from the new building into the church.
Other twentieth century additions include the stained glass in the north transept rose window, designed by Alan Younger, and an embroidered canopy for the shrine designed by Suellen Pedley. In the North Transept is a Single Standing Figure by Henry More.