We are Eastern Orthodox Christians. The countries that compose the Eastern Orthodox world have been (up until recently) the countries of the Eastern half of the Roman Empire and as we know, there has been a schism between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Western churches for roughly a thousand years. However, this means that the church was, more or less, one for the first thousand years and many, if not most, of the saints of the first millennium are common to both churches.
The Christian East rather forgot many of the western saints of the first thousand years, and the church only began to remember them as Orthodox Christians began to move to the Western Europe, especially as Russian Orthodox Christians fled the communists. St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, when he was bishop in Western Europe, strongly encouraged the veneration of the pre-schism Western saints. He wrote
“Never, never, never let anyone tell you that in order to be Orthodox you must also be Eastern. The West was Orthodox for a thousand years and her venerable liturgy is far older than any of her heresies.”
In light of that, on June 22nd we commemorate Saint Alban, Protomartyr of Britain. Although legend tells of St. Joseph of Arimathea bringing Christianity to Britain after Christ’s resurrection and building Britain’s first church in Glastonbury, or that Saint Aristobulus was the first bishop in England, these stories are beyond historical verification. We are on firmer ground with St. Alban. He was a Roman-Britain who lived towards the end of the third century. He was not a Christian, but when the Roman government began to persecute Christians in Britain, a priest took shelter in St. Alban’s home. St. Alban was so impressed by the courage and faith of the priest, he asked to be baptized. The priest changed clothes with Saint Alban and fled. When the Romans went to St. Alban’s house they saw that he was dressed as a priest, so they arrested him. When the judge found out about the switch he got angry and threatened St. Alban with death unless he renounced Christianity. St. Alban refused and was tortured and executed. St. Alban was venerated soon as a martyr and his relics were placed in what later became St. Alban’s Abbey. His relics disappeared during the English Reformation.
He is a saint of the Western and Eastern Churches and reminds us that Orthodoxy is not a religion for only certain nations or regions, but is meant for all humanity.
Troparion — Tone 4
In his struggle your holy martyr Alban, gained the crown of life, O Christ our God. For strengthened by you and in purity of heart, he spoke boldly before the judges of this world, offering up his head for you, the Judge of all!