In these days when torture is so often in the news headlines, it can be very easy to forget that to torture someone is not only morally wrong, but in the end self defeating. Today we can see that very point in the life of St. Alban.
Alban was a pagan, and a soldier in the Roman Army. We aren't exactly certian if he died under the persecution of Christians under Emperor Diocletian in 304 (the traditional date) or in what appears more likely these days, the persecution under Emperor Septimius Severus in 209. The point of the matter is that a Christian Priest was running from arrest and certain death, and took shelter in Alban's home. Over the next few days the two talked at length, and Alban became a Christian and received the Sacrament of Baptism. When officers came in search of the priest, they searched the house, and Alban disguised himself in the cloak of his guest and gave himself up in his place. He was dragged before the judge, tortured, and threatened. When after all this agony, he still would not deny his faith, the judge condemned to him to death, and Alban was beheaded.
Alban is thereby the first recorded Christian martyr in Britain. The second, interestingly enought, was the executioner who was to kill him. But, that man when he heard Alban's testimony and was so impressed that he became a Christian on the spot, and refused to kill Alban. He was exectuted immediately for his disobedience to the Empire. The third was the priest, who when he learned that Alban had been arrested in his place, hurried to the court in the hope of saving Alban by turning himself in, however it was too late to save him. Alban bore great tortures and torments for our Lord, not only patiently, but joyfully. He has been a Patron of torture victims ever since. My hope is that Alban would watch over and lift to God in prayer those people caught in the horrors and torments of torture, even today.
Almighty God, by Whose grace and power Your holy martyr Alban triumphed over suffering and was faithful even unto death: Grant to us, who now remember him with thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to You in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.