St Alban – known as San Albano in Spanish – was England’s first martyr, making him a fitting patron for a college that counts so many who gave their lives for the faith among its alumni.
Although he was himself a pagan, St Alban hid a priest in his house during a persecution of Christians at some time during the third or fourth centuries.
The priest made such an impression on Alban as he prayed and kept watch day and night that he received instruction from him and became a Christian himself.
When the governor discovered where the priest was being sheltered, he sent soldiers to capture him. But Alban swapped clothes with his guest and gave himself up in his place.
The judge was enraged when he found out that the priest had escaped and told Alban, “You shall get the punishment he was to get unless you worship the gods.”
The saint replied that he would never worship those false gods again. Angrily, the judge commanded him again to pay homage to the gods.
“Your sacrifices are offered to devils,” answered Alban. “They cannot help you or answer your requests. The reward for such sacrifices is the everlasting punishment of Hell.”
When a whipping failed to shake Alban’s constancy, the judge gave orders for him to be beheaded. On the way to the place of execution, the soldier who was to kill the saint also converted to Christianity after seeing signs and wonders that took place.
Moved by divine inspiration he asked that he be either put to death in Alban’s place or that he might suffer alongside him and he was also executed.
The judge was astonished by the miracles that took place and began to honour Alban’s death, as well as ordering further persecutions to cease.
Alban is the patron saint of converts, refugees and torture victims and his feast is celebrated on June 22.