On the 26th of the month, we celebrate the Memory of the Holy Martyr ADRIAN, NATALIA his wife and their twenty-three companions
Saint Adrian was a high-ranking officer in the Roman army. At the age of twenty-eight, he was living in Nicomedia with his wife Natalia at the beginning of Diocletian’s persecution (c.300). The Emperor had then arrested twenty-three Christians who
had been hiding in a cave, and had submitted them to all kinds of torture. Having been present at the time, Adrian asked them: ‘Why are you enduring such intolerable suffering and terrible torture?’ They replied: ‘We are enduring all this in order to receive the delights reserved by God for those who suffer for Him; delights that ear cannot hear nor words express.’
His soul illumined by divine grace, Adrian asked the scribes to add his name to those of the Christians. ‘It would be for me a joy to die with them for the love of Christ!’, he cried out. He was immediately loaded with shackles and thrown into prison to await judgement. When Natalia learned that her husband had been arrested, she, thinking that it was for some wicked act, burst into tears. But when she was told that it was for
confessing Christ, she put on her festal garments and hurried to the prison. Embracing Adrian’s bonds, she praised his resolution and encouraged him to remain firm in the trials that awaited him; and, after having asked the other martyrs to pray for her husband, she returned home.
When Adrian learned of the sentence he had been given, he was allowed to go and tell his wife the date of the execution. As soon as she saw him arrive free of his bonds, Natalia, believing that he had been freed after denying Christ the Lord; shut the
house door in his face. Abusing him for his cowardice, she hurled the Lord’s
words at him: He who denies Me before men, him will I deny before My Father
(Matt. 10:33). However, when Adrian told her why it was that he was there,
she opened the doors wide, threw herself into his embrace and resolved to
follow him to the scaffold.
The blessed man appeared before the Emperor several days later; and, having courageously confessed his faith, he was cruelly flogged. The soldiers then threw him to the ground and struck his abdomen with such violence that his entrails fell out on the ground. Encouraged by the other martyrs and by Natalia, who said in his ear: ‘Do not fear the tortures. The suffering will be short, but rest will be eternal’, the Saint remained immovable.
When the holy martyrs were taken back to prison, dragged along as they were no longer able to walk, Natalia piously anointed herself with her husband’s blood, as though it were the most precious unction. Devout women came to tend the wounds of the glorious martyrs in their dungeon; but, as soon as the Emperor heard of this, he forbade their going. Natalia then cut off her hair and, dressing as a man, succeeded in getting into the prison and succouring the martyrs, being quickly imitated by the devout women. Informed that they had succeeded in overturning his ruling and that the detainees were enjoying some measure of relief from their sufferings, the tyrant ordered that their legs be clamped in vices; and they thus gave their souls into God’s hands because of their sufferings. When Adrian’s turn came, Natalia encouraged him and
even held the hand that the executioners were preparing to cut off on the block. When his hand fell to the ground, the holy martyr gave his soul into God’s keeping, making up the number of the choir of glorious martyrs.
When the tyrant had ordered that their remains be destroyed by fire, Natalia managed to take her husband’s severed hand and hide it in her bosom. The bodies were thrown into the fire, but a violent rainstorm suddenly put out the flames. A Christian called
Eusebius managed to seize the precious relics and take them to Argyropolis near Byzantium, where they were given worthy burial. Some time later, a powerful general asked the Emperor that Natalia should marry him; but, faithful to her spouse, she prayed in front of Adrian’s hand, asking his intercession to preserve her from such
a trial. Through the martyrs’ intervention, she succeeded in fleeing and, going to Argyropolis, placing Adrian’s hand together with the rest of his body. She lived there for a time with a group of devout women; and, after a vision of Adrian, contracted a slight illness and went to join him in the Kingdom of Heaven.
THE SYNAXARION, The Lives of the Saints of the
By HIEROMONK MAKARlOS OF SIMONOS PETRA
Translatedfrom the French by MotherMaria (Rule)
and Mother Joanna (Burton)
Holy Convent of The Annunciation of Our Lady
Ormylia (Chalkidike) 2008