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Patron Saints at SS Alban & Stephen Catholic Church in St Albans

Our Patron Saints

St Alban and St Stephen are the Patron Saints of our church, our parish and two of our schools; St John Fisher is Patron Saint of another of our schools

St Alban

 -  First English Martyr,
    lived in Verulamium
    (now St Albans)

-  ??? - c. 287
-  Feast day 22nd June

St. Alban was the first martyr of England, his own country. During a persecution of Christians, Alban, though a pagan then, hid a priest in his house. The priest made such a great impression on this kind pagan that Alban received instructions and became a Christian himself.

In the meantime, the governor had been told that the priest was hiding in Alban's house, and he sent his soldiers to capture him.
But Alban changed clothes with his guest, and gave himself up instead. The judge was furious when he found out that the priest had escaped and he said to Alban, "You shall get the punishment he was to get unless you worship the gods." The Saint answered that he would never worship those false gods again. "To what family do you belong?" demanded the judge. "That does not concern you," said Alban. "If you want to know my religion, I am a Christian." Angrily the judge commanded him again to sacrifice to the gods at once. "Your sacrifices are offered to devils," answered the Saint.
"They cannot help you or answer your requests. The reward for such sacrifices is the everlasting punishment of Hell."

St Stephen

-  First Martyr, lived in Jerusalem.
-  ??? - c. 35
-  Feast day 26th December

Stephen's name means "crown,"
and he was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr's crown. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian Church. The apostles had found that they needed helpers to look after the care of the wi
dows and the poor. So they ordained seven deacons, and Stephen is the most famous of these. 

God worked many miracles through Stephen and he spoke with such wisdom and grace that many of his hearers became followers of Jesus. The enemies of the Church of Jesus were furious to see how successful Stephen's preaching was. At last, they laid a plot for him. They could not answer his wise argument, so they had men lie about him, saying that he had spoken sinfully against God. Stephen faced that great assembly of enemies without fear. In fact, the Bible says that his face looked like the face of an angel. 

The saint spoke about Jesus, showing that He is the Savior, God had promised to send. He scolded his enemies for not having believed in Jesus. At that, they rose up in great anger and shouted at him. But Stephen looked up to Heaven and said that he saw the heavens opening and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 

His hearers plugged their ears and refused to listen to another word. They dragged St. Stephen outside the city of Jerusalem and stoned him to death. The saint prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" Then he fell to his knees and begged God not to punish his enemies for killing him.  After such an expression of love, the holy martyr went to his heavenly reward.).

St John Fisher

-  English bishop and martyr, born in Yorkshire
-  1459-1535
-  Feast day 22 June

He received his masters degree in 1491 and thereafter occupied the vicarage of Northallerton until 1494.   He then became proctor at Cambridge, at his college, Michaelhouse (later part of Trinity College), until 1501; then as vice-chancellor of the university from 1501 to 1504; and finally with a lifetime appointment as chancellor, beginning in 1504.   Meanwhile, as chaplain/confessor to Lady Margaret Beaufort, countess of Richmond and Derby, and mother of Henry VII,  Fisher became closely associated in her endowments to Cambridge and in 1503 became the first Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge.  He had a great progressive influence, promoting humanism, creating scholarships, and introducing Greek and Hebrew into the curriculum. He brought in the world-famous Dutch scholar Desiderious Erasmus to Cambridge as professor of Divinity and Greek.

In 1504, he became Bishop of Rochester and Chancellor of Cambridge, in which capacity he also tutored Prince Henry who was to become Henry VIII

As a churchman and humble servant of God, however, Fisher strongly opposed, and wrote treatises against the Reformation, especially the doctrines of Martin Luther.   In 1527 he protested the plan of King Henry VIII of England to divorce Catherine of Aragón, to whom Fisher was confessor. In 1534, when he and the English statesman Sir Thomas More refused to take the oath of the new act of succession (that Anne Boleyn was Henry's new wife and legitimate heir to the throne), they were imprisoned in the Tower of London. In May 1535, Pope Paul III made Fisher a cardinal. One month later, the new cardinal was brought to trial, accused of the treasonous act of refusing to accept Henry VIII as head of the church.   He was sentenced to death.

Half an hour before his execution, John Fisher opened his New Testament for the last time and his eyes fell on the following words from St. John's Gospel:
"Eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.  I have glorified you on earth and finished the work that you gave me to do..  Now Father, it is time for you to glorify me with that glory I had with you before ever the world was".   (ref: John 17: 3 - 5).    Closing the book, he observed: "There is enough learning in that to last me the rest of my life."  St John Fisher was beheaded on 25 June 1535, and canonised by Pope Pius XI in 1935.

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