Western Saints of the Orthodox Church
ALBAN of BRITAIN, the Protomartyr of Britain, when the chief magistrate of Verulamium (present-day St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England) ordered that all the Christian priests be arrested, tortured, and then killed (either circa 209 or 305), a priest, known to us as Amphibalus, fled and St. Alban sheltered him in his home. The priest’s piety impressed St. Alban and he asked to be taught about the faith. St. Alban soon embraced Christ and was baptised by Amphibalus.
The authorities became aware that St. Alban was hiding a fugitive, and soldiers were sent to arrest the priest. As the soldiers arrived, St. Alban and Amphibalus exchanged cloaks, resulting in St. Alban’s arrest and Amphibalus’ escape. St. Alban was brought before the magistrate who was furious that St. Alban had helped the priest escape. However, he offered St. Alban the opportunity to be freed without punishment if St. Alban would renounce Christ, offer a sacrifice to idols, and reveal where Amphibalus was hiding. St. Alban replied that he was a Christian and worshiped the one true God. The magistrate had St. Alban beaten and tortured, and once again offered to free him if he renounced Christ. St. Alban again refused, rejoicing in the suffering he was experiencing for the glory of God. The magistrate then ordered that St. Alban be taken to Holmhurst Hill outside the village and beheaded.
In his Historia Ecclesiastica, St. Bede the Venerable (25th May) relates of several miracles associated with the story of St. Alban’s execution. One, that the bridge crossing a river which separated Verulamium and Holmhurst Hill, was full of people who had come to witness St. Alban’s martyrdom, preventing the execution party from continuing up the hill. St. Alban stood and prayed, making the Sign of the Cross over the river, which then parted, allowing the execution party to pass. The executioner was so astonished by this that he threw away his sword and refused to carry out the execution. He too was arrested and a replacement was selected. Another miracle linked to is that as they climbed Holmhurst Hill, St. Alban became thirsty and asked for water. At this point a small spring gushed forth and the saint could drink. Though the well is now dry, for many years pilgrims came to drink from this Holy Well. One of the last miracles connected to St. Alban’s martyrdom is that as the replacement executioner struck St. Alban’s head off, the executioner’s eyes came out of his head and fell to the ground. These miracles led to many conversions amongst the crowd of spectators.
Troparion of St. Alban of Britain — Tone IV
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 to you, the Judge of all!
AARON of BRITTANY (AARON of BRETAGNE, AARON d'ALETH), a Briton who went to Brittany where he lived as a hermit on the present-day Île de Cézembre, about 4 km (2.6 miles) off the coast of St. Malo, France. Over the years he was joined by other hermits, and disciples gathered around him. His disciples formed an abbey, with St. Aaron as their Abbot. St. Aaron reposed circa 552.
CONSORTIA, nothing reliable is known of the life of St. Consortia. It is believed she was the foundress of a monastery which was generously endowed by Clotaire I, King of the Franks (r. 551–558), in thanksgiving for St. Consortia’s miraculous healing of his daughter. She is said to have reposed circa 570, however, due to the unreliability of her Acts, it is possible St. Consortia flourished at an earlier date.
FLAVIUS CLEMENS, a brother of Emperor Vespasian (r. 69–79), uncle of Emperors Titus (r. 79–81) and Domitian (r. 81–96). St Flavius Clemens served as Imperial Consul in the year 95. Shortly there after Domitian had St. Flavius Clemens arrested, tried, and beheaded for being a Christian.
JOHN I of NAPLES, a fifth century Bishop of Naples (southern Italy). St. John translated the relics of St. Januarius of Naples (19th September) from nearby Puteoli to Naples.
JOHN IV of NAPLES, a ninth century Bishop of Naples (southern Italy). St. John was a learned prelate, who approached his responsibilities to his flock with great energy and diligence. He was also renown as a man of great sanctity, and following his repose St. John was adopted as a patron-saint of Naples.
PAULINUS the MERCIFUL of NOLA, Pontius Meropius Amcius Paulinus was born in Bordeaux (south-western France), the son of a Roman patrician. Owing to his lineage and excellent education he was appointed a Roman senator and rapidly ascended the ranks of government to consul, and finally governor of Campania (south-western Italy). Returning to Gaul (France) in 389, St. Paulinus married and retired with his wife to Hispania (Spain). Following the repose in 392 of their only child St. Paulinus and his wife to renounced the world, sold their possessions, and settling in Nola in Campania where they lived a life of asceticism and charity. Having been ordained to the priesthood in 395, in the early fifth century St. Paulinus was chosen by the people of Nola to be their bishop. Not only was he one of the leading prelates of his day, St. Paulinus was one of the most distinguished Christian Latin poets of his era. St. Paulinus reposed in 431, and many of his writings survive to this day.
ROTRUDIS of SAINT-OMER, there is no verifiable information on St. Rotrudis’ life beyond having reposed circa 869, and that her relics enshrined at the Abbey of St. Bertin (abbaye Saint-Bertin) in Sithiu (present-day Saint-Omer, France). A tradition that St. Rotrudis was a daughter or sister of Charlemagne, King of the Franks (r. 768–814) has become popular over the years, but there is no evidence to suggest this is anything more than pious legend.
Prior to the Schism the Patriarchate of Rome was Orthodox, and fully in communion with the Orthodox Church. As Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco +1966 said “The West was Orthodox for a thousand years, and her venerable Liturgy is far older than any of her heresies”.