Ss. Andrian and Natalie icon
Orthodox icon of Saints Andrian and Natalie.
Commemorated August 26.
During the Great Persecution of Diocletian during early fourth century, Adrian encountered a group of martyrs and asked them why they were willing to endure such tortures for their faith. They replied that they were suffering in order to gain the good things prepared by God for those who suffered for his sake, "which neither eye has seen nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man" (I Cor.2:9).
Upon hearing these words, Adrian was struck by divine grace and told the Roman officials who were present to write his own name with the rest of the martyrs. When his wife Natalia heard that he had been imprisoned with the martyrs, she ran with joy to the prison and lauded his resolve while embracing his chains. After imploring the other martyrs to pray for her husband to God, she returned home. Right before the time appointed for martyrdom, Adrian bribed the guards to release him temporarily and then went to his house to tell Natalia that the time had come. When she saw him coming, she assumed that he had denied Christ and thus had been released, and she refused to open the door, rebuking him as a coward.
When she finally learned the true nature of his release, she changed her tone to one of encouragement and accompanied him to the tribunal. When Adrian appeared before the emperor and confessed Christ, he underwent a first beating, and then was stretched on the ground and suffered a second beating on his stomach, which lacerated his stomach so that his intestines were visible. His hands and feet were then cut off. It is not clear if he died from these tortures, or was beheaded to finish him off more quickly.
The bodies of the martyrs were then taken up to be burned, but Natalie managed to steal one of her husband's severed hands from the pile. Guarding it as a precious relic, she kept it in her cloak and even anointed herself with the blood. The fire that was supposed to burn the relics was miraculously put out by a sudden shower of rain, and a Christian named Eusebius was able to retrieve the relics, place them on a ship, and transport them for burial to Argyroupolis, a town near Byzantium. Some time later, Natalia visited the tomb where she gave up her soul to God and was herself subsequently buried.
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