Letter: Nominations for a new St George

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The Independent Online
Sir: While having considerable sympathy with your correspondent Jacqueline Doyle regarding St George's claims as the patron saint of England (letter, 21 April), I have misgivings about her nomination of St Cuthbert as the most appropriate alternative. My dismay is further exacerbated by the realisation that your correspondent lives but a few miles from the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban.

I suggest that St Alban has better credentials than any other candidate as England's patron saint. The book Ms Doyle quotes, by the Venerable Bede, says a great deal about Alban. Alban was the first Christian martyr of England, pre- dating Cuthbert by some 400 years.

Unlike Cuthbert, Alban was not a bishop (which may be to his advantage) - he was a Christian layman of but a few days' standing when he was martyred.

Like Cuthbert, Alban is credited with causing springs to flow from the ground on which he walked, and causing flowers to bloom. Like Cuthbert, his place of witness has also been for many centuries a focus of pilgrimage and prayer. However, like George, tradition holds that Alban was possibly a Roman soldier (which does not mean he or George were not Englishmen).

Yours faithfully,

COLIN SLEE

Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban

St Albans, Hertfordshire

21 April

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