Today, 21 Jun 2012, is the memorial of St Alban of Mainz, (a.k.a. Albinus of Mainz, Albano di Magonza), a priest, missionary and martyr who lived most of his life in the 5th century. Even though the information about this Saint is rather sketchy, it still shows that he was an individual of great courage.
Some sources say that St Alban came from Greece, or from Albania. If Greek, probably from the tiny island of Naxos in Greece. One story goes that he left the Greek speaking world to escape from Arian persecution. Should that be so, the middle of the Arian troubles were around 350, making a late first quarter / early 2nd quarter of the 4th century birth year for Alban likely.
From Greece it seems clear that Alban, and any clerics he was accompanying, headed for Milan where St Ambrose was bishop and well-known defender against the Arian heresy. Did they go to consult St Ambrose about theological defences against Arianism or to seek protection and guidance as to what to do next in life? Did they receive supernatural communications from God inviting them to this very long journey to the north of Italy? In all likelihood Alban and companions called in at Rome on the way in order to venerate the relics of the Apostles. At least, at that time, if your Latin was good you could make yourself understood everywhere within the Roman Empire.
Upon reaching Milan, St Ambrose welcomed them. It seems reasonable to assume that St Ambrose saw great missionary fervour in Alban and those who travelled with him, because he encouraged them to undertake the dangerous journey into Gaul – what is now modern day France. For a Mediterranean person to face a route that probably included going over the Alps would have required a lot of courage. From there Alban set out to help the missionary effort at Mainz, which in our times is located in central west Germany. Mainz then became a base from which the surrounding pagan tribes could be evangelised. To preach to them would have required both courage and zeal.
After the epic journey to Mainz, Alban proved to be an effective preacher and defender against heresy, converting many tribal pagans to the faith. Alban’s part in the mission came to an end when Mainz was raided by Vandals around the year 406. He was captured, killed and beheaded. At the place where Alban’s remains came to rest, a Benedictine monastery bearing his name was built in latter centuries.
Over the centuries believers have noticed that St Albert of Mainz is a particularly good intercessor for those suffering from epilepsy, kidney stones and hernias.
St Alban of Mainz please pray for us, and for all of those whom God is calling into missionary vocations at this time.