Ss. Adrian and Natalia were pagans who were married for one year prior to their martyrdom, and lived in Nicomedia during the time of Emperor Maximian in the early fourth century. The emperor promised a reward to whomever would inform on Christians to bring them to trial. The denunciations then began, and twenty-three Christians were captured in a cave near Nicomedia.
They were tortured, urged to worship idols, and then brought before the Praetor, in order to record their names and responses. Adrian, the head of the praetorium, watched as these people suffered with such courage for their faith. Seeing how firmly and fearlessly they confessed Christ, he asked: "What rewards do you expect from your God for your suffering?" The martyrs replied: "Such rewards as we are not able to describe, nor can your mind comprehend." St Adrian told the scribes, "Write my name down also, for I am a Christian and I die gladly for Christ God."
The scribes reported this to the emperor, who summoned St. Adrian and asked him, "Really, have you gone mad, that you want to die? Come, cross out your name from the lists and offer sacrifice to the gods, asking their forgiveness."
St. Adrian answered, "I have not lost my mind, but rather have I found it." Maximian then ordered Adrian to be thrown into prison. His wife, Natalia, knowing that her husband was to suffer for Christ, rejoiced, since she herself had secretly turned from paganism to Christianity.
She hastened to the prison and encouraged her husband saying, "You are blessed, my lord, because you have believed in Christ. You have obtained a great treasure. Do not regret anything earthly, neither beauty, nor youth (Adrian was then 28 years of age), nor riches. Everything worldly is dust and ashes. Only faith and good deeds are pleasing to God."
On the pledge of the other martyrs, they released St. Adrian from prison to tell his wife about the day of his execution. At first St. Natalia thought that he had renounced Christ and thus had been set free, and she did not want to let him into the house. Adrian persuaded his wife that he had not fled from martyrdom, but rather had come to give her the news of the day of his execution.
St. Adrian was cruelly tortured. The emperor told Adrian to have pity on himself and call on the gods, but the martyr answered, "Let your gods say what blessings they promise me, and then I shall worship them, but if they cannot do this, then why should I worship them?" St. Natalia continued to encourage her husband. She asked him also to pray to God for her, that they would not force her into marriage with a pagan after his death.
The executioner ordered the hands and the legs of St. Adrian to be broken on the anvil. Fearing that her husband would hesitate on seeing the sufferings of the others, St. Natalia asked the executioner to begin with him, and permit her to put his hands and legs on the anvil herself.
The executioners were ordered to burn Adrian’s body, but a storm arose and the fire went out. Many of the executioners were struck by lightning. St. Natalia took the severed hand of her husband and kept it at home in a place of honor.
After Adrian’s death, an army commander asked the emperor's approval to wed St. Natalia, who was both young and rich. But she hid herself away in Byzantium. St. Adrian appeared to her in a dream and said that she would soon be at rest in the Lord. St. Natalia, worn out by her former sufferings, soon fell asleep in the Lord.
Troparion (Tone 4) –
Your holy martyrs Adrian and Natalia, O Lord,
through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God.
For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries,
and shattered the powerless boldness of demons.
Through their intercessions, save our souls!
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org )