June 23 – St Alban’s Pilgrimage

A Fantastic Parade on St Albans Day

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

What a lovely day we had. When we arrived at the cathedral there were two Roman magistrates dressed and waiting for three others to take the Magistrate puppet to the Town Hall for the Pilgrimage Procession. We had quite a few visitors including people who did not realise that it was Pilgrimage Day. At 10.45 we packed up all our things and walked into the town to see the parade. The parade stopped at the Town Hall where the  Alban puppet was brought before the magistrate and sentenced to flogging and then death. The larger than life puppets are amazing and there were children dressed as monks, red roses, the rose windows etc.

After all the puppets and the children came groups from various local churches and then the clergy. In the parade was the Diocesan Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, the 10th Bishop of St Albans who is supported in his work by two suffragan bishops, Rt Revd Dr Michael Beasley, the Bishop of Hertford and the Rt Revd Richard Atkinson Bishop of Bedford, and three archdeacons. Also in the parade were a Bishop from Ghana and other dignitaries. Also the Dean of St Albans in his amazing embroidered robe and other clergies including the head virger of the church who gave us a wave. It was a wonderful spectacle which continued down the West end of the Cathedral where Alban was beheaded and the executioner’s eyes fell out on red ribbons. This part of the show was very popular, especially with the children. The Dean then picked up Alban’s head and carried it into the church followed by everyone else for a mass.

We went back to the exhibition and had a very busy time for the whole afternoon talking to hundreds of people. Televisions had been set up all through the cathedral so we were able to watch the service. Later in the afternoon, I was drawn to the Shrine of St Alban by some amazing chanting. Two men were chanting a Greek Orthodox service so I stood to watch. There were three priests plus the two intoning the service. Much of the proceedings was in Greek but some were in English and it was a very moving experience.

We had a busy day and we were thoroughly worn out but we had a great day. A real privilege to be here for this special occasion.