Solrunn Nes, one of Europe's most admired iconographers, illuminates the world of Christian icons, explaining the motifs, gestures, and colors common to these profound symbols of faith. Nes explores in depth a number of famous icons, including those of the Greater Feasts, the Mother of God, and a number of the better-known saints, enriching her discussion with references to Scripture, early Christian writings, and liturgy. She also leads readers through the process and techniques of icon painting, showing each step with photographs, and includes more than fifty of her own original works of art.
Solrunn Nes is an art historian, freelance lecturer, and writer. Her highly regarded iconography can be seen in suchplaces as Aylesford Priory in England and St Paul's Churchin Bergen, Norway. More on Solrunn Nes
Saint Alban, Protomartyr of Britain, is venerated as the first-recorded British Christian martyr.
Alban lived in Roman Britain, in the 3rd or 4th century, when Christians began to suffer "cruel persecution".
Alban met Amphibalus, a Christian priest fleeing from persecutors and sheltered him in his house for a number of days. Alban was impressed by the priest’s constant prayer and vigil, and so he questioned Amphibalus about his beliefs. As a result, Alban came to believe in Christ and asked to be baptized.
Eventually, Amphibalus was forced to move on, and Alban changed clothes with him so that he could get away.
Eventually, it came to the ears of an unnamed "impious prince" that Alban was sheltering the priest. The prince gave orders for Roman soldiers to make a strict search of Alban's house. As they came to seize the priest, Alban put on the priest's cloak and clothing and presented himself to the soldiers in place of his guest.
Alban was brought before a judge, who just then happened to be standing at the altar, offering sacrifices to pagan gods. When the judge heard that Alban had offered himself up in place of the priest, he became enraged that Alban would shelter a person who "despised and blasphemed the gods,"] and, as Alban had given himself up in the Christian's place, Alban was sentenced to endure all the punishments that were to be inflicted upon the priest, unless he would comply with the pagan rites of their religion. Alban refused. The enraged judge ordered Alban to be scourged, thinking that a whipping would shake the constancy of his heart, but Alban bore these torments patiently and joyfully. When the judge realized that the tortures would not shake his faith, he gave orders for Alban to be beheaded.
Alban was led to execution, and he presently came to a fast-flowing river that could not be crossed. There was a bridge, but a mob of curious townspeople who wished to watch the execution had so clogged the bridge that the execution party could not cross. Filled with an ardent desire to arrive quickly at martyrdom, Alban raised his eyes to heaven, and the river dried up, allowing Alban and his captors to cross over on dry land. The astonished executioner cast down his sword and fell at Alban's feet, moved by divine inspiration and praying that he might either suffer with Alban or be executed for him.
When Alban reached the summit of the hill, he began to thirst and prayed God would give him water. A spring immediately sprang up at his feet.
Paris was admitted as a monk to St Albans in 1217 His life was mainly spent in this religious house. In 1248, Paris was sent to Norway as the bearer of a message from Louis IX to Haakon IV; he made himself so agreeable to the Norwegian sovereign that he was invited to superintend the reformation of the Benedictine Nidarholm Abbey outside Trondheim.
His known activities were devoted to the composition of history, a pursuit for which the monks of St Albans had long been famous. He inherited the mantle of the abbey's official recorder of events, in 1236. More on Matthew Paris
It was there that his head was struck off, as well as the head of the first Roman soldier who was miraculously converted and refused to execute him. However, immediately after delivering the fatal stroke, the eyes of the second executioner popped out of his head and dropped to the ground, along with Alban's head, so that this second executioner could not rejoice over Alban's death. More on Saint Alban
After the martyrdom of Alban, Amphibalus was believed to have returned to Caerleon, where he converted many others to Christianity, including the saints Julius and Aaron. It is believed that he was eventually captured by the Romans and returned to Verulamium, where he was killed for his faith. More on Amphibalus