december 1. Natalia, who oversaw her husband's martyrdom
Patron of plague, epilepsy, arms dealers, butchers, guards, and soldiers
Natalia was a beautiful girl who lived on the sea beach. At the time of her honorary martyrdom, she was a young newlywed; her husband’s name was Adrian. When they married their faiths were star-crossed: Natalia was a secret Christian while Adrian was a pagan.
WED TO A SPIRITUAL ATHLETE
Adrian’s profession was to preside over the tortures Christian men. Once, a band of 23 of them was uncovered and captured while hiding in a cave. He asked his prisoners how their God would reward them for suffering. Upon hearing their answers, divine grace struck him and Adrian announced that he too was a Christian, and requested that the recorders add his name to the list of people to slay (or as one chronicler describes them: “brave athletes of spiritual athletics.”). When his boss asked him if he’d gone mad he replied: I have not lost my mind, but rather I have found it.
CHEERLEADER TO THE MARTYRS
When Natalia heard that her husband was soon to be martyred, she rejoiced. She adorned herself in fine clothes, and ran to the prison where she kissed the very chains that bound him. She said to her husband in prison: Do not regret anything earthly, neither beauty, nor youth, nor riches. Everything worldly is dust and ashes.
TURN BACK, O MAN
When Adrian was released from his cell and banged on his wife’s door, she nearly castigated him for being a traitor. To her delight, he was not, as she suspected, a coward who rejected Christ out of love for his life; instead, he came to tell her the date of his impending execution.
As his death hour approached, the prison forbade any female visitors, so Natalia arrayed herself in boy’s clothing so she could sneak in to bandage him.
ORCHESTRATOR OF SEVERE TORTURES
When the time came for Adrian and his fellow captors to undergo tortures, Natalia was there to oversee them. She looked on as they flung him face down on the floor and beat him with sticks. Next they flopped him onto his back and lacerated his front side until his intestines poured through. Natalia fretted that her husband’s resolve was weakening. His tormentors ordered that the captors’ arms and legs get broken on an anvil. Taking matters into her own hands, Natalia asked the executioner to begin with Adrian, and to please permit her to arrange his limbs atop the anvil herself. The executioner complied. She beseeched the executioner to strike hard with the hammer against her husband’s flesh on the anvil’s sharp edge. Meanwhile, she fortified her husband with praise against cowardice. When no one was looking, she pocketed one of her husband’s chopped hands. Then, like a scene from the movie Carrie, she spread the martyr’s blood all over her own body.
When they attempted to burn Adrian’s remains along with his relics (aka his crushed, sliced-off limbs), a heavenly torrent wiped out the pyre.
DEATH ATOP HER HUSBAND’S GRAVE
While Natalia is also numbered among the martyrs, she died in the night, sans physical suffering, soon after her husband’s execution. While she slept in the city’s outskirts atop his grave, he appeared to her in a dream, foretelling of her impending death. Worn out by her prior emotional suffering, she too fell asleep in the lord.