Adrian and Natalia/ Nicomedia/ A.D. 303
During the tenth and last major Roman persecution under Emperors Diocletian and Maximian, a young military officer who loved honor and courage distinguished himself to his superiors by faithfully and efficiently carrying out the letter of their orders in trying to suppress the Christians. His skill and daring in both this and in battle had led to one promotion after another.
But Adrian's task of torturing Christains bothered him. In the face of pain and death, Christians were repeatedly peaceful and unrelenting in their commitment to their Lord. He saw in these men and women a courage greater than any he had ever seen in battle.
Adrian was so intrigued by this that one day as he was bringing a group of Christians before a judge for sentencing, he asked one of them, "What gives you such strength and joy in the midst of your sufferings?
"Our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we believe," the man replied."
Suddenly Adrian saw it as he never had before. The Roman gods he was defending could never give a person such courage! They were nothing compared to the God of these Christians.
He made his way to the front of the line of prisoners and stepped before the judge. "Put down my name with those to be tortured. I also have become a Christian." The emperor's son Galerius, who served as Dioclentian's caesar (or junior emperor) and had been present at the trials with his father, tried of Christians and to beg for forgiveness. Adrian assured him that he had not lost his mind but had acted thus according to his own convicting.
What Adrian did not know at the time was that his wife, Natalia, had secretly become a Christian some time before and had been praying for him. When she heard that he was in prison, she went to him and encouraged him by telling him of her conversion and more about the God who loved him.
The group of Chrisitans Adrian had put his name down with were soon sentenced to die. Before this, because of his former status in the empire, Adrian was allowed to do home that he might make his peace with his wife before he was killed. When Natalia saw him coming down the road, she at first thought he had renounced Christ in order to be freed and wouldn't let him into the house!
Though this might have been an opportunity for Adrian to escape, he did not. He soon returned to the prison, When he did, he watched as others were subjected to terrible tortures: Their arms and legs were broken with heavy hammers until they died from the agony and internal bleeding. When Adrian's turn came, his wife feared most of all that her husband would become fainthearted and renounce Christ, but he finally knew the courage that could only belong to Christians and never backed away from his commitment. She strengthened Adrian and held on to his arms and legs while the executioner broke them with the hammer. Adrian died together with the rest.
When they began to burn the bodies of the Christians, a thunderstorm arose, the furnace was extinguished, and lightning killed several of the executioners. The attempt was abandoned and the rest of the bodies were released to their families. Sometime later, after Adrian's body had been moved to the city of Byzantium, Natalia's body was found lying on top of her husband's grave. She had died while attedning it.
His sacrifice has stood as a shining example for the last eighteen centuries. During that time Adrian has been known as one of the patron saints of soldiers.
...Love...rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all tings. -Paul (1 Corinthians 13:4, 6-7)