WARNING

NOT EVERYTHING THAT

CALLS ITSELF ORTHODOX IS

TRULY ORTHODOX


The above warning was given to me when I first met Orthodoxy in 1986. Today [2009] it is even more perilous, even more difficult to find the Royal Path. For one thing there is a far greater abundance of misinformation. And many materials are missing, and other materials are being rapidly rewritten. For another thing there are fewer than ever guides remaining on the Royal Path, especially who speak English. Hopefully this website will be a place where Newcomers to the Faith can keep at least one foot on solid ground, while they are "exploring."


blog owner: Joanna Higginbotham

joannahigginbotham@gmail.com

jurisdiction: ROCA under Vladyka Agafangel

who did not submit to the RocorMP union in 2007

DISCLAIMER



21 August 2014

Sts. Adrian & Natalia

The Suffering and Martyrdom of
Saints Adrian and Natalie
and 33 companions of Nicomedia
Commemorated on August 26/September 8



In the year 301 A.D. the impious Roman Emperor Maximian, a great persecutor of the Church of Christ, arrived in the city of Nicomedia, having tortured and slain a multitude of Christians wherever he had gone. Entering into a pagan temple, the emperor bowed down in worship before his abominable gods, falling down to the ground before the idols. While all the inhabitants of that city took part, he offered up his vile sacrifices. After this, he commanded that the Christians be sought out and handed over to be tortured. The emperor threatened with particular torments those who might have considered concealing the Christians; but he promised rewards and honors to those who, knowing where Christians were hiding, would inform on them or, finding them, would themselves bring them to judgement. Thus, neighbor began to betray neighbor, friend betrayed friend — some out of fear of the provisions of the emperor's dread edict, others for reward.

Certain of the impious informed their military commander that there were Christians hiding in a cave, chanting there all night long, and praying to their God. Straightway, soldiers were dispatched to that place, and they arrived at the cave and laid hold of all the Christians who were therein, to the number of thirty three. Securing them with iron chains, they led them back to the city to be brought before the emperor. At that time the emperor was riding in his chariot to a pagan temple, there to offer sacrifice. Encountering him on the way, the soldiers who were leading the fettered Christians cried out to him: "O Emperor, behold them that mock the law, the blasphemers of our great gods!" Ordering his chariot to halt, and ordering those prisoners to approach nearer to him, the emperor asked them where they we from. "We are natives of this land, but are Christians by Faith." "Can it be that you have not heard what manner of torments await them that call themselves Christians?" continued the emperor. "We have heard," answered the saints," and have laughed at your foolishness and at Satan himself who works through his children who do not believe in God, whose leader you are!" Enraged, the emperor cried out: "You wretches! How dare you call me a fool and laugh at me? l vow by the great gods that I will break in pieces your bodies with the cruelest of tortures!" And he commanded his soldiers, saying: "Stretch them out and beat them without mercy with rods and clubs, and then we shall see whether their God will come to help them, and free them from my hands!" And the martyrs were savagely beaten by the soldiers, but while they were under going this torment, they said to the emperor: "You enemy of God, even if you set over us yet another three torturers; however many you will summon, whatever torments you devise, know well that by doing this you are but increasing the number of our crowns!" "O you most wretched of men," cried the emperor, "I shall have your heads removed, and on what then will you place your crowns? Renounce your vain faith and don't bring destruction upon yourselves for your foolishness!" But the martyrs replied: "God will destroy you because without cause you do torment His servants, who have done no evil!"

Then the emperor ordered his soldier's, saying: "Strike them with stones about the mouth!" And immediately taking up stones in their hands, his servants began to strike the martyrs about the mouth, but they did not so much harm to them as to themselves, for they went insane, and with those same stones broke each others jaws. And the saints said to the tyrant Maximian: "O iniquitous hater of God, without mercy you are beating us who are in no way guilty before you, but an angel of God shall kill you and shall destroy all of your impious household. You can not satiate yourself on the torments with which you are torturing us in the course of so many hours and with such brutality; yet incomparably greater torments await you yourself. Apparently you have not given thought to the fact that we have the same body as you do, with the sole difference that yours is befouled and impure, whereas ours is cleansed and sanctified by Holy Baptism." Angered all the more by such words, the tyrant Maximian cried out: "I swear by the great gods that I shall give the command for your tongues to be cut out, that others, seeing you, might learn not to contradict their masters!" But the martyrs of Christ replied: "Take heed, O impious tyrant! If you despise and torment those servants who oppose their earthly masters, then why would you compel us to oppose the Lord our God? Or would you want that those torments which are prepared for you should befall us as well?" "Tell me," said Maximian, "what torments are prepared for me?" "That which God has prepared for the devil and his angels," the saints replied, "He has also prepared for you, the vessels of the devil — namely: the fire which cannot be quenched, the worm which cannot be satisfied, unceasing torment, everlasting punishment, the damnation of hell, the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, and many other tortures innumerable." "I swear, I will have your tongues cut out!" cried the tyrant. "You fool," replied the saints, "if you cut out those organs with which we glorify God, our breath shall all the more easily reach Him and our hearts shall cry out to Him with yet greater force, and our blood shed by you shall like a clarion raise its voice to the Master, proclaiming that we are suffering in innocence." Hearing the saints reply like this, the impious emperor commanded that they be put in iron chains and cast into prison, and that their names and statements be recorded in the minutes of the court. When they led the saints to the palace of the tribunal to record their names, one of the officers who worked there, a man of exalted station by the name of Adrian, an adherent of the Hellenic impiety, having witnessed the steadfast and courageous suffering of those martyrs, approached them and asked: "I adjure you by your God, for Whose sake you have suffered so much: tell me in good conscience, what awaits you from your God for such torment? I think that you hope to receive from Him something great and wondrous." The holy martyrs answered him, saying: "We cannot with our own lips describe to you, nor can you grasp with your hearing, nor attain with your mind unto those joys and most glorious honors which we expect to receive from our Master, the righteous Bestower of rewards." "Is this not known to you from the books of the Law, the Prophets and the Writings?" "Even the prophets themselves," replied the saints, "could not perfectly attain in mind to those everlasting blessings, in that they were men as we are; although they pleased God with good faith and good works and spake that which the Holy Spirit instilled in them; yet, concerning that glory and recompense which we hope to receive, it says in the Holy Scriptures: ‘From of old we have not heard, neither have our eyes seen a God beside thee, and thy works which thou wilt perform to them that wait for mercy' (Esaias LXIV.4.[LXX])". And hearing these words, Adrian walked out into the middle of the holy martyrs and said to the scribes who were recording the names of the martyrs: "Write down my name also together with those of these holy men, for I too am a Christian and shall die for Christ God in their company!" And immediately the scribes sent a message to the emperor informing him that Adrian had declared himself to be a Christian and was asking them to inscribe his name among those of the condemned.

On hearing this, the emperor marveled and was filled with rage; and, summoning Adrian into his presence, he asked him: "Have you taken leave of thy senses, O Adrian? Or do you also desire a wicked end?" "No, I have not taken leave of my senses," he replied. "But, on the contrary, l have left great insanity behind me and I have finally attained to true and full mental health." "Do not argue," cried the emperor . "It would be better to ask forgiveness, to acknowledge before all that you have sinned, and to cross your name from the list of the condemned." "From now on," replied Adrian, "I shall entreat the true God, that He forgive me the sins I committed as a pagan." Enraged all the more by Adrian's words, the emperor Maximian then commanded that he be weighed down with iron chains and cast into prison with the other martyrs, appointing the day on which he would give them all over to torture.

One of Adrian's slaves, hastening to his home with all possible speed, informed his mistress Natalie, Adrian's wife, that they had put his master in fetters and taken him to prison. Hearing this, Natalie was struck with a great fear. Weeping bitterly and rending her garments, she asked the slave: "For what crime have they imprisoned my husband?" The servant answered: "When he witnessed how certain people were tortured for the name of someone called Christ, and that they refused to obey the emperor's edict, or to renounce their faith and offer sacrifice to the gods, our master asked the scribes to enter his name among those of the condemned, for he desires to die with them." "Are you certain that you know why they were torturing those men?" Natalie again asked the servant. "I have told you," he answered, "that they were being tortured because of someone named Christ, and because they would not obey the emperor's command to worship the gods."

Then Natalie rejoiced greatly in spirit and ceased to weep; she cast off her torn garments and, arraying herself in her very best, made her way to the prison. The daughter of saintly parents who believed in God, Natalie had always been afraid to reveal her faith in Christ to anyone; she had kept it secret, for she saw the cruel persecutions and torture to which the Christians were subjected by the impious. But now, hearing that her husband believed in Christ and having had his name entered with those who were condemned to torment, she too resolved firmly to declare herself to be a Christian.

Entering the prison, the Blessed Natalie fell at her husband's feet and, kissing his fetters, said. " Blessed are you, O Adrian my lord, for you have found a treasure which you did not inherit from your parents, for thus is a man blessed who fears God. Truly, my lord, at such a young age you have by your faith in Christ acquired such riches as you would not have attained even in old age, had you remained in the Hellenic error . Now you shall depart to everlasting life and shall find a treasure such as they will not receive who attain great wealth for themselves and acquire estates. There, they will have no time to acquire anything, to lend or to borrow anything from anyone, when none can be delivered from eternal death in hell and from the torments of Gehenna; there, none shall help another — neither a father his son, nor a mother her daughter, nor shall great earthly wealth aid him that has gathered it, nor shall a slave help his master, but each will have to endure his own punishment. But all of your virtues, my lord, shall accompany you to Christ to obtain for you from Him that blessedness prepared for them that love Him. Go forth to Him with boldness, without fear of the punishment which is to come; for, lo! You have already vanquished the unquenchable flame and the rest of the torments! I beseech you, my lord, to remain steadfast in the calling to which you have been summoned by God's loving kindness. Let yourself not be turned from your good path neither by pity for the beauty of your youth, nor by love for your kinfolk, or friends, or servants, or handmaidens, or anything that is of earth, for all things continue to age and decay; but keep before your eyes one thing alone — that which is eternal; and cast not your gaze towards the corruptible and transient goods of this world. Do not be swayed by the deceptive discourse of your family and friends, lest they dissuade you from the Faith by their wicked counsel. Despising their flattering speech, reject their counsels and pay no heed to their delusive words; direct your eyes only at those holy martyrs who are with you; heed their words and emulate their patience without wavering. Fear not the anger of the tyrant and his diverse torments, for they shall all quickly come to an end, but there shall be an ever lasting reward from Christ in Heaven for His servants who suffer for Him."

And having said this, Natalie fell silent. Then Adrian said to her: "Get yourself home now, my sister, and sleep in peace; and when I learn the hour at which they shall lead us out to torture, I shall inform you, that thou may come and behold our end." And, arising from Adrian's feet, Natalie went to each of the thirty three prisoners. Falling down before them, she kissed their fetters, saying: "Servants of Christ, I entreat you: watch over this lamb of Christ; advise him to endure unto the end, pointing out to him the future recompense made ready for them that offer their blood to Christ God, like unto you who have offered your own blood, for which suffering you shall receive eternal salvation as a reward. Join his soul — to your souls, and be yourselves his fathers in place of his parents according to the flesh, who were impious; strengthen him with your holy counsel, that, possessed of unwavering belief, he might complete the course of his suffering."

Thus saying, Natalie turned again to Adrian, who was imprisoned in the deepest dungeon: "Mind yourself, my lord," she said, "take no pity on your youth and handsome good looks of face and of body: Your body of clay will be food for the worms. Take no heed of your possessions, of gold or silver or other forms of money, for none of this shall avail you at the dread Judgement. There, none shall be able to redeem his soul from ever lasting damnation by any gifts, for no one will accept the gifts; God will accept the good works of holy souls alone, instead of gifts."

When several days had passed, Adrian, hearing that the emperor wished to bring him and the other prisoners to trial and torment, addressed the holy martyrs with the following request: "Sirs," he said, "with your blessing I must depart to my home and summon your handmaid, my sister Natalie, that she might behold our suffering, for I have promised to call her when the hour appointed for our martyrdom arrives." The saints gave him their blessing and vouched for him, and Adrian, bribing the prison guards, went his way.

One of the citizens of the city, seeing him on his way home, hastened to Natalie with all speed and informed her that her husband was freed of his chains and even then was approaching his home. Hearing of this, Natalie did not believe it and said: "Who could have freed him? It is not possible that my husband has separated himself from the holy martyrs!" During this conversation, however, one of her servants came and said: "Do you know, my lady, that our master is freed, and draws nigh unto our house?" Thinking that he had renounced Christ to gain his freedom, Natalie was greatly troubled and lamented bitterly. Seeing through the window that he was approaching their home, she cast aside the handiwork on which she had been working and, rising up immediately, shut the door quickly and said: "Depart from me, you apostate who has deceived thy Lord! I cannot hold converse with one who has rejected God, and I shall not listen to your false words! O godless and most wretched of men! Who impelled you to undertake a task which you could not carry through to the end? Who has separated you from the saints? Who has enticed you to withdraw from their fellowship? What has put you to flight even before coming out to battle? You have not even seen the enemy, yet have already cast down your sword; his warfare has not even been started to work on you, and you are already wounded! I was amazed, thinking that perhaps something good might come from a godless generation and an impious city! Could it be that a pure offering might be made to God by an offspring of the tyrant? Can incense be sweet smelling to the Most High if offered by those who are guilty of innocent blood? What shall I do, wretch that I am, who have bound myself in wedlock to this impious man? I have not been accounted worthy to be called the wife of a martyr; no, on the contrary, I have become the wife of an apostate. Short lived has been my joy; it has become everlasting mockery. For a short time I was praised among women, but now I shall have to endure unceasing scorn from them!"

The Blessed Adrian, standing at the door and hearing Natalie speak thus, rejoiced at heart and was strengthened further for his contest, aflame all the more with a desire to fulfill what he had promised to Christ God. He marveled that his young wife, who had but lately married him, would speak in this manner, for they had been wed but thirteen months. Seeing his wife's great grief, Adrian knocked at the door, pleading with her: "Open the door unto me, O my lady Natalie! I have not fled from torment, as you think; no, l could not act that way. I have come to take you with me, as I promised, that you might behold our end." But Natalie refused to believe his words, and continued to reproach him: "Behold, how this transgressor would deceive me! Behold how this second Judas lies unto me! Depart from me, lest I kill you!" And she would not unlock the door. "Unlock the door and quickly let me in," pleaded Adrian, "for if I depart without seeing you, you will grieve over it, for I must very soon return. The holy martyrs have vouched for me, and if I do not return at the appointed hour, the guards will inquire after me, and if l am not there the holy martyrs will have to bear my torments as well as their own. Will they be able to endure tortures for me when they themselves are barely alive?" Hearing this, Natalie immediately and joyfully threw wide the door, and they flew into each other's embrace. "Blessed are you, O my spouse," said Adrian. "You alone have come to know God, that your husband might be saved. Truly, O my wife, you love your husband! Blessedness will be your crown because of this, for although you yourself will not endure torment, yet you will participate in the sufferings of the martyrs in your sympathy for them."

And taking his wife by the hand, Adrian departed to the prison with her. On the way he asked her: "How will we dispose of our property?" Natalie answered: "Set aside all care for the things of this earth, O my lord, lest it lead your mind astray. Concern yourself and be thoughtful only of winning the contest to which you have been called. You should forget all that is of this earth. Such things are corruptible and harmful to the soul. This will enable you to think solely about beholding and receiving the everlasting blessings prepared for you and those saints with whom you shalt walk the path of the Lord."

And, entering the prison, the handmaid of God Natalie fell down before the holy martyrs and, kissing their shackles, perceived that their wounds had festered and that maggots were falling from their wounds, and that due to the iron chains with which they were bound, their bodily members were parting one from another. Then immediately she sent out her attending and serving maids to her home to find fine linen and bandages. When all had been brought, Natalie bound up the wounds of the martyrs with her own hands and, as far as was possible, alleviated their unbearable sufferings, ministering in the prison seven days, until they left for trial.

When the day appointed for the trial dawned, the Emperor Maximian took his place at the tribunal and commanded that the prisoners be brought to him. His servants went immediately to the prison to inform them of the emperor's command. Seeing that they were so afflicted of body, due to their grievous wounds, that they could not walk, the servants bound all the martyrs together in a line with a single chain, like a herd of cattle. But they led Adrian behind them all, binding his hands behind his back.

When they reached the judgement hall, the emperor was informed that the prisoners had been brought in. "Bring them all in together," the emperor commanded, "that they might behold each other's torment; bring them forth stripped naked, ready for torture." But the warden of the prison told the emperor: "O emperor, those who were tortured before cannot be brought before you for testing. Give the command that Adrian alone be brought forth, for he is yet strong and healthy of body, and can endure the various torments. But the bodies of the others have festered; one can see their bones through their wounds, and if we bring them to torture them again, they will die very quickly, without enduring the many tortures prepared for them. We do not wish them to die after a brief session of torment, like those whose guilt is negligible; therefore, give them a space of time to recover their health and grow strong, that they might later endure greater torments for their iniquity."

Then the emperor commanded that Adrian be brought directly in front of him alone. Stripping Adrian of his clothes, the servants handed him the instruments of torture, that he might hold them in his own hands. And the holy martyrs said to him: "Blessed are you, O Adrian, that you have been freed to bear your cross and follow Christ! Beware, and fear not! Do not turn back and do not lose your reward. Take care, lest the Devil steal your treasure. Be not afraid of visible torments, but direct your gaze towards the reward which is to come. Go forth boldly and put the tyrant to shame! Know that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us which we hope to receive in accordance with God's mercy". And the Blessed Natalie also said to him: "Direct your mind, my lord, to the one God alone, and may your heart fear nothing! The labor is short, but the rest is unending; the suffering is brief, but the glory of martyrdom is everlasting. Endure the pain but for a little time, and you shall shortly rejoice with the angels. If, serving an earthly ruler, you did take care to gather in the least tribute, and you did not spare your health and were ready to die in battle, then should you not now endure many different kinds of torments with yet greater valor, and die for the King of Heaven, with whom you shall yourself reign?"

When they brought Adrian before the impious Emperor Maximian, casting his gaze upon him he asked: "Do you still remain in your foolishness and desire to end your life?" "I have told you before," replied the holy martyr Adrian, "that I have not lost my reason, but have regained it and am prepared to die in this life." The emperor asked: "Will you not offer sacrifice and worship the gods, as I and all with me worship them and offer up sacrifice to them"? "You fool," answered Adrian, "if you are in error, for what reason would you also lead others into the same error? You would not only bring destruction upon yourself, but upon the whole nation which obeys you; you shall ruin it completely, advising and forcing men to worship inanimate graven images, forsaking the true God, the Creator of heaven and earth!" "Do you then consider our great gods feeble?" asked the emperor . "I call them neither feeble nor strong," replied Adrian, "for they are nothing."

Enraged, the tyrant then commanded that he be beaten with rods. The Blessed Natalie, hearing that her husband's beating was beginning, informed the holy martyrs of it, saying: "My lord has begun to suffer!" And the saints immediately began to entreat God on his behalf, that He might strengthen him during his torments. The emperor commanded the torturers to declare: " Do not blaspheme the gods!" And while they were beating the martyr, he said to the emperor: "If I am suffering because I blaspheme gods who are not gods, what torment awaits you for blaspheming the true and living God?" "Apparently, you have learned to speak so boldly from those liars." said the emperor. The martyr said: "Why do you call liars them that are guides to salvation, who lead us to everlasting life? You are yourselves great charlatans, for you lead the people to damnation!" Filled with wrath, Maximian commanded four mighty torturers to beat the martyr savagely with heavy clubs. And while they were beating Adrian, he said: "The greater the torments you devise for me, O tyrant, the greater the crowns I shall win for them!" And the Blessed Natalie conveyed to the holy martyrs all that passed between the emperor and Adrian.

"Take pity on your youth," the tyrant continued to exhort the tortured man, "and call upon the gods! Will you perish in vain, and of your own will? My gods are great, and I sympathize greatly with you, seeing how grievously you are suffering, and how your handsome face and body are being destroyed." "I am sparing myself," replied the martyr, "so that I will not perish completely." "Call upon the gods," the tyrant pleaded; "they will have mercy on you, and I will restore you to your former rank. You should not be compared with those who were with you in bondage, for you are a noble personage, the son of renowned parents; and, though young, you are yet worthy of great honors. But those other prisoners are paupers, of poor and inferior families , and are stupid ignoramuses." "I know that my lineage and generation are well known to you," answered the martyr, "but if you were aware of the generation of those holy men, and the rich rewards which await them, you would be one of the first to fall at their feet and ask them to pray for you, and you would with your own hands destroy your own inanimate gods!"

Angered all the more, the tyrant commanded four strong servants to beat the martyr's belly. And they beat the saint until his stomach burst and his entrails began to fall out. Seeing this, the tyrant commanded them to stop beating him. The blessed Adrian was a young man and lean of body, being only twenty eight years of age. "Do you see how I am sparing you?" the emperor said to him. "You have but to utter a single word invoking the gods, and immediately they will be merciful to you; and I will summon physicians to treat your wounds; and this day you shall be with me in my imperial palace!" But the martyr responded: "If you actually do promise me the care of physicians, and that I will dwell in your palace, and if you say that your gods will be merciful to me, then let them tell me with their own mouths what they wish to give me; let them say what benefactions they are promising me! And when I hear their words, I will offer them sacrifice and worship them as thou dost desire." "But they cannot speak," replied the emperor. "If they cannot speak," said the martyr, "then why do you worship them, dumb and inanimate as they are?"

In rage and wrathful anger, the tyrant commanded that Adrian be again chained to the other prisoners and locked in the dungeon, appointing the day when they would all be brought to trial. Then the soldiers, laying hold of the holy martyrs, dragged some to the dungeon; others, who were debilitated by their bodily sufferings, and unable to walk, they carried. The holy Adrian they led; and all were again incarcerated in the prison.

The Blessed Natalie encouraged and comforted Adrian. Embracing him, she said: "Blessed are you, my lord, that you have been vouchsafed the lot of the holy martyrs! Blessed are you, light of my eyes, For you are suffering for Him that suffered for you! Behold, now you are going to see His glory and become a partaker of the same, for he that shares in His sufferings will be a partaker of His glory!"

During this conversation, Natalie soaked Adrian's blood up in a cloth and anointed her body with it. And the holy martyrs rejoiced greatly at the valorous endurance of Adrian and, drawing close to him, they kissed him saying: "Peace be to you, brother!" And those who could not walk because of the severity of their wounds lay on the floor and crawled to him, so as to kiss him; and all told him: "Rejoice in the Lord, beloved brother, for your name has been entered among those of the glorious servants of God!"

"Rejoice also, you servants of Christ," responded Adrian, "for you shall receive crowns for your care of me! Because of this, pray unto the Lord for me, that He strengthen me, who am so painfully distressed of body; that the devil, who rises up as my enemy, may accomplish nothing against me."

"Trust in the Lord," said the saints; "Satan will not overcome you. You have driven him far away by your sufferings. At first we feared for you, thinking that you, as a man, would weaken; but now, seeing your steadfast endurance, we no longer have doubts concerning you, and we believe that with the help of God the enemy will be able to do nothing with you. Wherefore, fear not: Christ, the Vanquisher of the devil, is with you!"

With the Holy Natalie, there were also other pious women who ministered to the saints, applying healing salves to their wounds and fashioning bandages for them, having apportioned the martyrs among themselves, that each might minister to her own, tending him with all possible care.

Learning that many women were coming to the prison and ministering to the prisoners, applying salves to their wounds, the impious emperor forbade them further entry into the prison. Seeing that the women could no longer go to the martyrs, the holy Natalie sheared the hair from her head, dressed in men's garments and, entering the prison in the guise of a man, herself ministered not only to her own husband, but to all the other holy martyrs. Binding up the wounds of the martyrs, she sat at Adrian's feet and said: "I pray you, my lord, please remember our union, and my presence by your side during your suffering, and my desire that you should win crowns. Pray to the Lord Christ our God, that He take me with you, that as we lived together in this sorry life which is full of sins, so may we also live together inseparably in that blessed life. l pray you, my lord: when you stand before Christ the Lord, make supplication to Him first concerning me; for I believe that whatsoever you ask, the Lord shall give you, for your prayer pleases Him, as does your entreaty. But you know the impiety of this people and the godlessness of the emperor, and I fear that they will force me to marry another, an impious man and a pagan. Then would my bed be defiled and our union broken. I beseech you, preserve your spouse, as the Apostle teaches; grant as a reward for chastity that I might die with you!"

Having said this, she rose and again ministered unto the saints, giving them food and drink, and washing and binding up their wounds. The pious women, learning that Natalie was ministering unto the saints in male apparel, likewise sheared the hair from their heads, following her example, and, dressed in men's garb, entered the prison as before and ministered to the saints.

But when it became known to the emperor what the women had done, and also that the prisoners had weakened greatly as a result of their infected wounds and were barely alive, he commanded that there be brought to him at the prison an anvil and an iron hammer, that he might break the shins and arms of the martyrs, saying at that time: "Let them not die the violent death usual for such men!" And when the torturers and executioners came to the prison with the iron hammer and anvil, Natalie, seeing this and discovering the reason for their arrival, greeted the servants with the entreaty that they begin with Adrian, since she feared that her husband, seeing the cruel torture and death of the other martyrs, would become afraid.

The torturers assented to Natalie's request and went first to Adrian. Then Natalie, lifting up her husband's legs, placed them on the anvil; with a mighty stroke, the torturers shattered the martyr's shins and smote off his legs. "I beseech you, my lord, you servant of Christ," said Natalie, "while you are still alive, stretch forth your arm that they might break it, and you shall then be equal with the other martyrs who have suffered more than you have!" The holy Adrian stretched forth his arm to her, and she, taking it, set it upon the anvil. The torturer, striking the arm mightily, broke it off, and immediately the holy Adrian surrendered his soul into the hands of God, unable to endure further torment.

Having slain the Holy Adrian, the torturers went with the anvil and hammer to the other martyrs, but they themselves placed their arms and legs on the anvil and said: "O Lord, receive You our souls"

After this, the impious emperor commanded that the bodies of the martyrs be burned, that the Christians might not take them up and remove them for an honorable and Christian burial. But hearing of the emperor's command, the Blessed Natalie secretly took her husband's arm and hid it on her person, so that it would not be burned. When the servants of the tyrant kindled a fire and carried the bodies of the holy martyrs out from the prison to be burned, the Holy Natalie and the other pious women followed behind them and gathered up the martyrs' blood in their costly garments and in bands of cloth. In this way preserving it, they anointed their own bodies with the blood. In addition to this, the women purchased from the servants of the emperor the martyrs' garments, which had been dyed with their blood. When the bodies of the saints were cast into the giant all consuming fire , the women cried out with tears: "Remember us, O our masters, in your everlasting repose!" But the Holy Natalie drew nigh even unto the fire, to cast herself upon it, desiring to offer herself up with her husband as a sacrifice unto God, but she was restrained.

Suddenly a tremendous clap of thunder was heard, lightning flashed, and a heavy rain began to descend, which flooded the whole site with water and extinguished the fire itself. Seized with fear, the impious torturers ran fast away and many of them fell dead on the road, struck down by the lightning.

When the servants of the tyrant had been scattered, those faithful men who were with the holy Natalie and the other women extracted the bodies of the holy martyrs whole from the ashes; they had not been harmed in the least by the flames, and even their hair was unburned.

A certain pious man and his wife, falling down before Natalie, began to entreat her and the rest of the brethren, saying: "We live on the outskirts of the city in a solitary place; we hate godlessness, and can no longer bear to look upon the cruel bloodbath brought about by the impious emperor; Because of this, we no longer desire to remain in this place and are moving to Byzantium. Give us the bodies of the holy martyrs, and we will take them aboard a ship, carrying them with us far from here; and there we will preserve them until the death of the impious Emperor Maximian. After his death, if we are still alive, we will return and bring the bodies of the saints back here, that they may be honored by all. All of us understand that if they remain here now, the emperor will order them burned, and you will be forced to betray the bodies which God has preserved from the giant and all consuming fire by this rain." All agreed, and the bodies of the martyrs were taken aboard a ship, to be conveyed to Byzantium; and the winds favored the departure of the vessel.

Meanwhile, the Holy Natalie dwelt in her home, treasuring the arm of her husband, the holy Adrian, which she, having anointed it with costly myrrh and wrapped it in a purple cloth, had placed in the head of her bed, a fact which none of her household knew.

When some time had passed, a certain prominent man, the commander of a thousand soldiers, desired to wed Natalie, for she was young, beautiful, and rich. He petitioned the emperor to permit him to take as his bride the spouse of Adrian and the emperor consented to this marriage. The bridegroom immediately sent eminent ladies to Natalie with the offer of his hand, but Natalie told them: "I am happy that such a man would have me to wed; but I ask you to wait for three days, that I might prepare myself, since I have not expected that anyone would wish to enter into marriage with me so soon." Thus saying, the Blessed Natalie made her plans to flee to that place where the bodies of the martyrs had been taken.

Having sent the women back to the commander and reassured them, she herself, entering into her sleeping chamber where the arm of St. Adrian was kept, fell to the ground and cried out to the Lord with weeping: "O Lord our God, God of the sorrowful and contrite of heart: look down upon me Thine handmaiden, and do not permit the bed of Thy martyr Adrian to be defiled. Forget not, O Master, the sufferings of Thy servant, which he endured for the sake of Thy name! O merciful Lord, remember the breaking of the shins and the striking off of the arms of him and Thine other servants, which they endured for Thy sake, and let not their sufferings be in vain. For their sake, take pity on me, and permit me not to remain living with Thine enemies. O Thou Who didst deliver those saints from the fire, deliver me also from the intentions of this vile man!" And while she was praying in this manner, from exhaustion and from grief Natalie began to nod and fell into a light sleep; and lo and behold!, one of the holy martyrs appeared to her in a dream and said: "Peace be unto you, O Natalie, handmaiden of Christ! You should know that God has not disdained you, and we also have not forgotten the labors which you did show forth in nursing us during our imprisonment; standing in the presence of Christ, we are beseeching Him that He command you very quickly to come to us." The Blessed Natalie asked him: "Tell me, holy martyr, whether my lord Adrian stands with you before the Lord Christ." And the martyr replied: "He took his place before the Master even before we did! But now you must hurry to take ship without delaying, and sail to where our bodies are. There the Lord will appear to you, and He will lead you to us!"

Awakening from sleep, the holy Natalie immediately left all behind and, taking only the arm of the holy Adrian, departed from her home. Arriving at the shore of the sea, she saw a ship which almost seemed to be waiting for her, which was due to set sail for Byzantium. And, boarding it, she saw onboard people of both sexes, and all the Christians fleeing from the persecutions of the impious Emperor Maximian; and she gave thanks to God.

But the commander who had wanted to wed Natalie, learning of Natalie's flight, asked the emperor for the aid of some soldiers. Boarding another ship, he set out in pursuit. But when his ship had sailed but only a thousand stadia from the shore, the sea was blown with a contrary wind which drove the ship back to the shore, to the place, from where it had sailed; and it sustained much damage, so that many of those on board drowned. But the ship of the Christians, which had St. Natalie on board , sailed on without any problem what so ever. At midnight the devil appeared to the Christians of Natalie's ship. He took the form of one sailing on a ship out of the east, having with himself some others in the guise of sailors. And the devil asked the Christian sailors, calling to them as would a helmsman: "Where are you from and where are you going?" And the Christians answered: "We are from Nicomedia, and we are bound for Byzantium!" And the enemy said to them: "You have wandered off course; alter your course to port!" Thus saying, the devil wished to deceive them and bring about their destruction. And the Christians, believing this lying counsel and believing that those whom they had encountered were really sailing out of the east, began to turn sail and ship to port; but suddenly the Holy Martyr Adrian appeared to them, radiant with light, and he cried out with a loud voice: "Sail by the course you were following before, and do not listen to the words of the enemy who without any doubt is preparing destruction for you!" Thus saying, the martyr appeared to go before them across the water, and the devil vanished with his ship.

The Blessed Natalie, having risen up, beheld the Holy Adrian going before her ship, and she cried out loud: "Look! It is my lord Adrian!" And immediately the saint became invisible.

A favorable wind blew, and the voyagers arrived in Byzantium by sunset and anchored offshore, close to the site of the church in which the bodies of the holy martyrs had been interred; and the passengers disembarked with joy. Approaching the bodies of the martyrs in the church, St. Natalie fell down before them with ineffable gladness, kissing them and shedding tears of joy; and laying the arm of St. Adrian next to his body, she knelt down and prayed for a very long time. Then, when she had finished, she rose up and greeted the brethren and sisters who were there, for many faithful Christians were assembled in that place.

They received her with joy and took her into their homes, and tried to get her to to rest herself somewhat, for they saw that she was very, very tired from the long sea voyage. And while she slept soundly, the Holy Adrian appeared to her in a dream and told her: "It is very good that you have come here, O handmaid of Christ and daughter of the martyrs. You should come now to the rest prepared for you by the Lord. Come and receive your due reward!"

Awakening, the Holy Natalie related her dream to the Christians that were there and asked them to pray for her. After this, she fell asleep again. In an hour's time, the faithful came to wake her, but they found that she had reposed, for her holy soul had departed to ever lasting rest with the Lord. Thus, soon after the sufferings of the holy martyrs, the Holy Natalie also completed the course of her sufferings, even though without shedding her blood.

Much had she suffered with the martyrs, ministering to them in prison and watching their torture, and for chastity 's sake, she also forsook home and native land; and she stands even now amid the choir of the martyrs before Christ our Saviour, to Whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit , be honor and glory, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The memory of Saints Adrian and Natalie and the 33 companions martyred with St. Adrian is celebrated on August 26(Church calendar)/September 8(Secular calendar) each year.

Sts. Adrian and Natalie
TROPARION; TONE 3 
Thou didst esteem the saving Faith as wealth that cannot be taken away, O thrice blessed one / 
And didst abandon the ungodliness of thy fathers / 
Thou didst accept the words of thy spouse and wast made radiant by thy contest, O glorious Adrian, / 
do thou entreat Christ God for us, / 
together with the Godly minded Natalie. 

KONTAKION; TONE 4 
Having laid to heart the divine words of thy Godly minded spouse, / 
O Adrian, martyr of Christ, / thou didst run ardently to the tortures, / 
and, with thy wife, didst receive a crown.

Translated from the slavonic consolidated in the 17th century by Saint Demetrius of Rostov in Holy Russia.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'm sorry, but anonymous comments will not be published. Using a pseudonym is ok, if I know who you are. Comments can also be made by email. Please indicate which post. joannahigginbotham@gmail.com