Giant carnival puppets retold the remarkable and moving story of Britain’s first saint, Alban, in the spectacular Alban Pilgrimage on Saturday.
Thousands of people lined the city streets to witness 12-foot tall puppets followed by a procession make their way from St Peter’s Church attracting visitors, pilgrims and preachers from around the world.
Onlookers watched stunning carnival puppets dramatise St Albans' story accompanied by hundreds of children and adults dressed as angels, centurions, lions, roman soldiers and roses as they made their journey through the city to St Albans Cathedral.
Alban died on June 22 more 1700 years ago, and on the nearest Saturday to his death, a national pilgrimage is held in his honour.
He was executed for giving shelter to a Christian priest named Amphibalus who was fleeing persecution by the Romans. Moved by the priest's faith, Alban became a Christian and the two men swapped cloaks, enabling the priest to escape. Alban was arrested instead, brought to trial and beheaded on the hill where the Abbey now stands.
Canon Kevin Walton said: “It was an excellent day and a great spectacle, which was helped by the weather.
“It had a great community feel and the way that people from the market got involved in the celebrations was great.
“The people of St Albans were very much at the heart of this community event. They gained understanding of their own origin.”
Throughout the day there were also special services at the Cathedral from Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and John Bell of the Iona Community.
Canon Walton added: “They went down very well and were very warmly welcomed by the congregation.”
One of the most dramatic scenes took place at the Town Hall where the new Magistrate puppet appeared on the balcony and sentenced Alban to death for giving shelter to a Christian priest who was fleeing persecution by the Romans.