Holy Martyrs Adrian and Natalie

In the fourth century, the pagan Roman Emperor Maximian
cruelly persecuted those who believed in Christ. He came
together with his soldiers to the city of Nicomedia in
Asia Minor. There it was reported that in a certain cave
Christians were hiding, and that they sang and prayed the
whole night to their God. Immediately Maximian sent his
soldiers to seize these Christians. The soldiers did as
they were commanded and the Christians were beaten and
brought in iron chains to the place of judgment. One of
the chiefs of the judgment place, a young man by the name
of Adrian, seeing how patiently and how willingly the
Christians suffered for their faith, asked what reward
they expected to receive from their God for such tortures.
The holy martyrs replied: “It is written in Scripture
that eye hath not seen, nor hath ear heard, nor hath
it entered the heart of man those things which God hath
prepared for those who love Him
” (I Cor. 2:9).
Hearing these words, Adrian declared that he too wished to
be a Christian and was willing to die together with them
for Christ. For this he was also thrown into prison.

When Adrian’ s young wife Natalie was told of her
husband’s conversion
to Christ and of his imprisonment, instead of being sad,
she greatly rejoiced for she was secretly a Christian
herself and she knew the joy which now filled her
husband’s heart. She ran to the prison and, falling
down at the feet of her husband, she kissed his chains and
said, “Blessed are you, my Adrian; you have found
such a treasure.” When Adrian was brought before the
Emperor and threatened with torture if he did not worship
the pagan gods, his godly-minded wife Natalie and the
other martyrs encouraged him saying: “Having been
found worthy to carry your
own cross and to follow Christ, take care that you do
not turn back and lose your eternal reward.”

Adrian had always faithfully served his earthly king, but
now he was to serve the King of Heaven. He courageously
endured the tortures and was returned to the prison. There
Natalie, together with other pious women, would come and
help the prisoners, cleaning and bandaging their wounded
bodies. When the cruel Emperor found out about this, he
forbade them to visit the prison. But the blessed Natalie
had such love for the sufferers that she cut her hair and
put on men’s clothing. In this disguise she was able
to enter the prison.

Day after day the holy martyrs endured such cruel and
severe tortures that they were barely alive. The Emperor
became angry that even under such tortures they would not
deny their God. Finally he ordered for them a violent
death. Their arms and legs were cut off and their bodies
were thrown into a fire to be burned so that none of the
Christians might gather their precious remains. But just
at that moment, there burst forth thunder and lightning
and a powerful rain which put out the fire. Natalie,
together with other Christians took the bodies of the holy
martyrs from the fire and rejoiced to see that God had
preserved them from harm. A faithful Christian man and his
wife then took the holy relics
to Constantinople where they could be safely kept until
the death of the impious Emperor.

After a certain time, a pagan nobleman desired to marry
Natalie who was still young and beautiful. She cried and
begged God to save her from this union with an unbeliever.
Having prayed fervently, St. Natalie fell from exhaustion
and sorrow into a light sleep during which the holy
martyrs appeared to her in a vision and said, “Peace
be unto you. God has not forgotten your labors. We shall
pray that you will come to us soon. Get on a ship and go
to the place where our bodies are and the Lord will make
Himself known to you.”

Following their directions, the blessed Natalie reached
Constantinople and going to the church where the bodies of
the holy martyrs lay, she fell down before them and
prayed. She was so tired from the journey that she fell
asleep and saw in a dream her husband St. Adrian, who said
to her, “Come my beloved, and enjoy the reward of
your labors.” Very soon after this St. Natalie died
peacefully in her sleep. Although she did not shed her own
blood, she is numbered among the martyrs for having
co-suffered with them, serving and encouraging them in
their heroic struggles for the sake of Christ.

Originally published in Orthodox America no.
August, 1981

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