St. Alban, patron of refugees

July 24, 2006

I had pretty much decided not to continue with this little blog because of a general feeling that I might not have enough to say to sustain this kind of thing. But I got a nice email from a stranger encouraging me to continue, and that was enough to at least write one more.

I’m currently a research assistant for a project at ASU on the study of refugees in the humanities. To tell the bald truth, I’ve never been that interested in refugees, other in the normal, bleeding heart kind of way. But, I made a contact with the professor heading the project, and it’s steady work.

It turns out that refugees have a patron saint who is also the patron of torture victims (see previous posts). Here’s the story from another site:

20 June
Soldier and solid citizen. Converted by a persecuted priest whom he sheltered. He then changed clothes with the priest, allowing him to escape. Caught, he was ordered to renounce his new faith. He refused and became the first Christian martyr in Britain. The second was the executioner who was to kill him, heard his testimony, converted on the spot, and refused to kill Alban. The third was the priest, who when he learned that Alban had been arrested in his place, hurried to the court in the hope of saving Alban by turning himself in. The place of their deaths is near the site of Saint Alban’s Cathedral today.
Verulamium, Hertfordshire (now Saint Albans), England
tortured and beheaded c.305 at Holmhurst Hill, England
converts, refugees, torture victims
Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Alban triumphed over suffering and was faithful even unto death: Grant to us, who now remember him with thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
man with a very tall cross and a sword; decapitated, with his head in a holly bush and the eyes of his executioner dropping out
Alban’s experience of conversion certainly speaks to the experience of many I’ve witnessed in my own work. When the anti-immigrant gets a chance to “shelter” the immigrant, his or her heart is changed and is converted to compassion and human connection. Even the executioner’s heart melted within in his breast at the gospel act of providing shelter.

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