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Another Alain is venerated at Corlay (Cotes du Nord); he is regarded as having been a priest, but nothing is known of him. His Feast is there observed on December 27. (Abbe Chastelain quoted by Tresvaux in his edition of Lobineau, Vie des Saints de Bretagne, Paris, 1836, p. xli.)
At Corlay is the Holy Well of the Saint, as also his statue of the fourteenth century, representing him in sacerdotal vestments on his knees, a book under his left arm, and his hands joined in prayer. Corlay was formerly in the diocese of Quimper, but is now in that of S. Brieuc.
S. ALBAN, Martyr
The earliest authority for the protomartyr of Britain is Gildas, who says, " Alban of Verulam .. . through love hid a confessor when pursued by his persecutors, and on the point of being seized, imitating in this Christ laying down his life for the sheep. He first concealed him in his house, and afterwards exchanged garments with him, willingly exposed himself to the danger of being pursued in the clothes of the brother mentioned. Being in this way well pleasing to God, during the time between his holy confession and cruel death, in the presence of the impious men, who carried the Roman standard with hateful haughtiness, he was wonderfully adorned with miraculous signs, so that by fervent prayer he opened an unknown way through the bed of the noble river Thames, similar to that dry little-trodden way of the Israelites, when the Ark of the Covenant stood long on the gravel in the middle of Jordan; accompanied by a thousand men, he walked through with dry foot, the rushing waters on either side hanging like abrupt precipices, and converted first his executioner, as he saw such wonders, from a wolf into a lamb, and caused him together with himself to thirst more deeply for the triumphant palm of martyrdom, and more bravely to seize it." 1
The next authority is Bede. Bede says, speaking of the persecution under Diocletian, " At that time suffered S. Alban, of whom the priest Fortunatus (circ. 580) in the praise of Virgins, where he makes mention of the blessed martyrs that came to the Lord from all parts of the world, says :—
'In fruitful Britain's Isle was holy Alban born.'2
1 Gildas, ed. Hugh Williams, cc. 10, 11.
* "Egregium Albanum foecunda Britannia profert." Venant. Fortunat., Poem. VIII, iv, 155.
"This Alban, being yet a pagan, at the time when the cruelties of wicked princes (Diocletian and Maximianus) were raging against the Christians, gave shelter in his house to a certain cleric, flying from the persecutors. He observed this man to be engaged in constant prayer and vigil night and day; when suddenly, the Divine grace illumining him, he began to imitate the example set before him of faith and piety, and being little by little instructed by this man's holy admonition, he rejected the darkness of idolatry, and became a Christian in all sincerity of heart.
"The aforesaid cleric had been for some days entertained by him, when it came to the ears of the wicked prince, that this holy confessor of Jesus Christ, whose time of martyrdom had not yet come, was concealed in the house of Alban. Thereupon he sent some soldiers to institute a strict search for him. When they arrived at the martyr's house, S. Alban immediately presented himself before them, instead of his guest and master, in the habit or mantle which he wore, and was led bound before the magistrate. It happened that this latter, at the time, was standing at the altar and was engaged in offering sacrifice to devils. When he saw Alban, vastly incensed at his having thus voluntarily put himself in the hands of the soldiers, to shelter his guest, he commanded him to be dragged up to the images of the demons, before which he stood, saying, ' Because you have chosen to conceal a man who is a rebel and sacrilegious, in place of giving him up to the penalty that is his due, you shall undergo the penalty allotted to him, if you abandon the worship of our religion.' Alban, who had declared himself a Christian to the persecutors, was not at all daunted at the threat, but putting on the armour of the spiritual warfare, he openly declared that he would not obey the command. Then said the magistrate, 'Of what family and race are you?' 'How can it concern you of what stock I come ?' answered Alban. 'If you desire to hear the truth of my religion, be it known to you that I am now a Christian under Christian obligations. I am called Alban by my parents,' he replied; 'and I worship the true and living God, who created all things.'
"The magistrate hearing these words, was inflamed with anger and said, ' If you will enjoy the happiness of eternal life, do not delay to offer sacrifice to the great gods.' Alban replied, 'These sacrifices which you offer to demons can neither profit those to whom offered, nor avail to obtain the wishes and desires of those that offer them. On the contrary, whosoever shall do sacrifice to these images, will have everlasting pain for his recompence.'
"On hearing this, the judge ordered the holy confessor to be scourged by the executioners, trusting that he might thereby break his constancy ; when words proved unavailing, he being most unjustly tortured bore the same patiently, nay rather joyfully, for the Lord's sake. When the judge perceived that he was not to be overcome by tortures, or withdrawn from the exercise of the Christian religion, he ordered his execution. On being led forth, he came to a river which, with a most rapid course, ran between the wall of the town and the arena where he was to be executed. There he beheld a multitude of people of both sexes, and of many ages and conditions, doubtless assembled to attend the blessed confessor and martyr, and these had so occupied the bridge over the river, that he could hardly pass over that evening. In a word, nearly all the town had poured forth, leaving the magistrate unattended in the city. S. Alban, urged by his desire after a speedy martyrdom, approached the stream, and, raising his eyes to heaven, the channel was immediately dried up, and he saw that the water was gone and made way for him to pass. Amongst others the executioner saw this, and moved by divine inspiration, hasted to meet him at the place of execution, and, casting down his sword, fell at his feet, praying that he might rather die with the martyr, or, if possible, in his room. Whilst thus, from a persecutor he was changed into a companion in the Faith, and the other executioners hesitated to take up the sword that was lying on the ground, the reverend confessor, attended by the multitude, ascended a hill, about five hundred paces off, which was adorned with all sorts of flowers. The sides of this hill were not perpendicular, but sloped gently into the beautiful plain, a worthy place to be the scene of a martyr's sufferings. On the top of the hill S. Alban prayed that God would give him water, and immediately a living spring broke out before his feet. . . . The river having performed its holy function, resumed its natural course. Here the head of our most courageous martyr was struck off, and here he received the crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love Him. But he who dealt the wicked stroke was not permitted to rejoice over the deceased, for his eyes fell on the ground together with the martyr's head.
"At the same time the soldier was also beheaded who had refused to give the stroke to the holy confessor. Of whom it was apparent, that although he was not regenerated by baptism, yet was he cleansed by the baptism of his own blood, and rendered worthy to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Then the judge, astonished at the novelty of so many miracles, ordered the persecution to cease. The blessed Alban suffered death on the twenty-second day of June, near the city of Verulam, which is now by the English nation called Verlamacestir, or Varlingacestir, where afterwards, when peaceable Christian times were