The Martyrs Adrian and Natalia were married in their youth for one year prior to their martyrdom. They lived in Bithynian Nicomedia during the time of the emperor Maximian (305-311). Having started his persecution, the emperor promised a reward to whomever would inform on Christians to bring them to trial. There began the denunciations, and through one of these there were seized twenty-three Christians, hiding in a cave near Nicomedia. They were tortured, urged to worship idols, and then taken to the judgment palace, in order to record their names and responses.
Adrian, the head of the judgment palace, looking on as they brought in the people suffering with such courage for their faith, and how firmly and fearlessly they confessed Christ, asked: “What rewards do ye expect from your God for suffering?” The martyrs replied: “Such rewards, as we are not able to describe, nor thy mind comprehend.” Inspired, Saint Adrian told the scribes: “Write me down also, that I be a Christian and with joy I do die for Christ God.” The scribes reported about this to the emperor, who summoned Saint Adrian and asked: “Really, hast thou gone mad, that thou dost want to die? Come, cross out thine name from the lists and offer sacrifice to the gods, asking their forgiveness.” Saint Adrian answered: “I am not mad, but the rather have been converted to health of mind.” Maximian then ordered Adrian to be thrown into prison.
His wife, Saint Natalia, knowing that her husband was suffering for Christ, rejoiced, since she herself was secretly a Christian. She hastened to the prison and encouraged her husband saying: “Blest be thou, mine lord, in that thou hast believed on Christ, wherein thou hast obtained a great treasure. Regret not anything of earth, neither beauty, nor youth (Adrian was then 28 years of age), nor riches. Everything worldly is dust and ashes. Only faith and good deeds be pleasing to God.”
On the pledge of the other martyrs, they released Saint Adrian from prison to relate to his wife about the day of execution. Saint Natalia at first thought that he had renounced Christ and thus had been set free, and she did not want to let him into the house. The saint persuaded his wife, that he had not fled martyrdom, but rather had come to give her the news of the day of his execution.
They tortured Saint Adrian cruelly. The emperor advised the saint to have pity on himself and call on the gods, but the martyr answered: “Let thine gods say what blessings they promise me, and then I shalt worship them, but if they cannot speak thus, then why should I worship them?”
Saint Natalia did not cease to encourage her husband. She asked him also to convey for her a foremost prayer to God, that they would not compel her into a marriage with a pagan after his death. The executioner ordered the hands and the legs of the saints to be broken on the anvil. Saint Natalia, fearing that her husband would hesitate in seeing the sufferings of the other martyrs, besought the executioner to begin the execution with him and let her herself put his hands and legs on the anvil. They wanted to burn the bodies of the saints, but a strong storm arose and the fire went out. Many of the executioners even were struck by lightning. Saint Natalia took the hand of her spouse and kept it at home. Soon an army commander asked the emperor’s approval to wed Saint Natalia, who was both young and rich. But she hid herself away in Byzantium. Here Saint Adrian appeared to her in a dream and said, that she would soon be at rest in the Lord. The anemic martyress, worn down by her former sufferings, in fact soon expired to God.