Monday, June 22, 2009

The Substitute Martyr

There are only two people I've ever known who bore the name "Alban": a fellow in seminary with us who took the name "Brother Alban" and my dear friend, our retired Bishop, Jerry Alban Lamb. Interesting in the latter case, because Bishop Jerry, like me, is a "Roman retread", and I always found myself wondering why a good R.C. boy, before he became a
good Episcopalian bishop, was named after an Anglican saint!

Whatever, there is little known about our saint for the day. We presume he was martyred on June 22, between c. 209 and 305, a 96 year leeway! All else which we know about Alban, outside various legends handed down from the time of the early Church, is that his name was Alban, that he was beheaded near the Roman city of Verulamium, and that he had substituted himself for an escaped Christian priest, on June 22 in some undetermined year while the Roman Empire was still pagan. The essential message of his life and death seems to be that of Jesus himself: "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends..."

Wonder if that could be why so few of us bear his name?!

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