Falcon puppets join city's annual pilgrimage

A pair of peregrine falcon puppets at St Albans Cathedral
[Katy Lewis/BBC]

A city has created giant puppets to honour a pair of nesting peregrine falcons as part of an annual festival.

This year's Alban Pilgrimage features puppets based on the birds currently on the roof of St Albans Cathedral.

The 12ft (3.6m) puppets help tell the history of the Hertfordshire city and the story of its namesake saint.

"We are really looking forward to seeing two new puppets appear for the first time, in honour of the cathedral’s own breeding pair of peregrine falcons, Alban and Boudica," said the cathedral's canon chancellor, the Reverend Dr Kevin Walton.

"The word 'peregrine' itself means 'pilgrim', so it is only right that they should feature with the thousands of other pilgrims who will be with us for this great celebration."

The birds of prey have returned to the St Albans nesting site for the third year in a row.

More than 375,000 people watched the falcon's eggs hatch on an online live stream in 2023.

Alban was a citizen of Verulamium, the third-largest city in Roman Britain, who died for his faith in about AD300, near the spot where St Albans Cathedral now stands, after giving shelter to a Christian priest.

The Alban Pilgrimage, with huge puppets representing key figures in his story, usually happens on the weekend closest to his feast day of 22 June.

The procession starts at St Peter's Church and heads through St Peter's Street and High Street before ending at the west end of the cathedral.

Following the procession, the St Albans Festival takes place in the city centre, with re-enactments, live music and market stalls.

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