January 11, 2014

A visit to St Albans

A visit to St AlbansA visit to St Albans

by Marguerite Cook


A parishioner asked me to write about St. Alban. When I appeared reluctant, he reminded me of the beautiful glass etching of St. Alban and his Abbey at the back of St. Joseph’s Church. The etching was done by Alfred Fisher F.M.G.P.  St. Alban is venerated as the proto-martyr of Britain. Alban was a Roman citizen, who was converted by a priest whom he had hid from persecution, and had helped escape by giving him his own clothes. Alban was arrested and beheaded by the Romans for being a Christian.

In St. Albans Abbey, I attended the Catholic Mass which is said every Friday. I then went on a tour of the Abbey with my Cathedral guide named Ann.  English Cathedrals are amongst the wonders of the world. St. Albans Abbey is a special place. It has one of the longest naves in Europe; 13th Century wall paintings; connections with the English Pope Adrian IV; a watching loft, dated 1400, where pilgrims were viewed in the Abbey – (the first CCTV ?); and of course the pedestal shrine of St. Alban with his relic included.

However, it was the 4 feet tall models of Martyrs, done with the help of some St. Albans young people, that moved me the most. These thirteen models filled the 14th Century nave screen. They include Maximillian Kolbe and Archbishop Oscar Romero, plus St. Alban.  One of the martyrs however, I did not recognise. That same evening I thought about my wonderful visit to St. Albans Abbey, and the martyr I did not know.  This man was George Tankerfield; who was a cook from York. On August 26th, 1555, at the age of 27, George was burnt at the stake outside St. Albans Abbey……………for being a Protestant.

By | Published in: Faith Journeys