Augustine Sokolovski

The great saint of the past 20th century, Archbishop John Maksimovitch (1896–1966), spoke of the need to venerate ancient Western saints. That is, to honor all those righteous who shone before God in the first centuries of Christian history, when communion between the Churches of East and West existed in reality and was based on a common faith and practice.

In the mouth of bishop John, the invocation of saints for heavenly intercession became not only a pious practice, but a genuine commandment. Such remembrance of the saints is not just a permitted form of piety, but a virtue that gives life and grace.

In turn, the forgotten saints are not just the absence of names in the church calendar, but the holiness that once uniquely shone in history, which became invisible. The universe cries for holiness.

One of these ancient saints, forgotten in Orthodoxy, was the martyr Alban. In the Ancient Church, he was revered as the first Christian martyr for faith in Christ in the territory of modern Britain. As the first Christian martyr in his country, Alban, according to the ancient tradition of the Church, is called the protomartyr.

It is noteworthy that the day of St John departure to God, July 2, became the day of his memory after his canonization. On the third day, as if in the mysterious biblical poetics of Christ's words, on the 5th day of the same month, the Church celebrates the memory of St. Alban. In their almost simultaneous celebration during the July days of summertime holiness, John and Alban smile at the Church from the Kingdom of Heaven.

In the III century, the British Isles were a border territory very remote from the Roman Empire, where only occasionally reminded of themselves the Roman emperors.

According to the life, during one of these “royal visits”, the authorities received an order to arrest wandering Christian preachers. It was at this time that Alban sheltered such a persecuted priest. The power of grace and the personal example of the wanderer led Alban himself to Christ. He believed and was baptized. Moreover, when the persecutors came to his house, he pretended to be a shepherd, they were looking for. For this he was beheaded with a sword.

In this amazing sparkling detail, the essence of the New Testament attitude to the commandments of God is revealed. As a living icon of the Living God, in the spontaneous self-sacrifice of the saint, the meaning of Christ's words was revealed: "There is no greater love than if someone lays down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Christ not only fulfilled the commandments of the Heavenly Father, but Himself became their Living Image. Thus, His disciples, Christians, each in their measure, by the gift of grace and the will of God, are called to personify the commandment, thereby making it alive and beautiful.