Saint of the Day – 21 June – Saint Alban of Mainz (Died c 400) Martyr, Priest, Missionary, Confessor Born in Greece or Albania (sources vary) and died in c 400 by pagan Vandals at Hanum, Germany. His body was beheaded post-mortem. Patronages – against epilepsy, of epileptics, against kidney stones, against hernia; hernia victims. Also known as – Albano di Magonza, Albinus of Mainz.
The Roman Martyrology states of him today: “St Alban. Martyr, who was made worthy of the crown of life, after long laours and severe combats.”
The oldest surviving substantial source about Alban of Mainz is the Martyrologium (c 845) of Blessed Rabanus Maurus (776-856), who had two separate entries for the Mainzer Alban and the English Alban. Concerning Alban of Mainz, he wrote:
21 June: The Martyr Alban from native Moguntia [Mainz], who during the reign of Emperor Theodosius went forward from the island of Namsia with the Saint Theonestus and Ursus and reached Mediolanum [Milan] and from there he went out and, with the help of the Lord, he arrived in the provinces of Gaul, and stayed there in the Saviour’s name, willing to suffer Martyrdom in the service of God.
But after Martyrdom took the blessed Ursus in the City of Augusta, Theonestus arrived with Alban in Moguntiacum [Mainz]; while preaching the word of God there, his pupil Alban fulfilled Martyrdom and was buried there, near the City.
— Rabanus Maurus, Martyrologium. Iunius (c. 845)
The second substantial source is the Passio sancti Albani, an incomplete hagiography written in the 1060s or 1070s by schoolmaster Gozwin, who lamented that very little evidence about Alban had survived to his day. Gozwin’s account is much longer and adds many elements not found in Rabanus’ Martyrologium, including a prologue about the First Council of Nicaea (325) which condemned Arianism, that, nevertheless, persisted until Honorius and Arcadius succeeded Theodosius (395). In that time, Alban is mentioned as one of four disciples of St Theonestus, the others being Sts Ursus, Tabraha and Tabratha. These five Catholic clerics are forced to flee from North Africa to Italy after being persecuted by Huneric, the fiercely Arian King of the Vandals, travelling to St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. The most wise Ambrose teaches Theonestus and his disciples refined theology and sends them out to convert the ‘Arian beasts’ in Gaul and Germany. They pass a City called Augusta, where Ursus is killed by Arians, and Alban is eventually beheaded in Mainz by local Arians to whom he was preaching the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity. The legend finishes by narrating, that Alban carried his head in his hands to the place where he wanted to be buried.
A Church and Monastery were built in Mainz in 804 to honour Alban. A map of Fulda from 786 seems to have already mentioned a chapel in Mainz dedicated to Alban. It became the centre of Saint Alban’s Abbey, a large Benedictine Monastery, which was renovated by Charlemagne in 806. The Monastery was devastated in 1557 and never restored.
Albert II, Count of Namur founded the collegiate Church of St Alban at Namur in 1047. When the Diocese of Namur was created in 1559, it was expanded as St Aubin’s Cathedral, which claims to possess relics of Alban of Mainz.