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Legend of Saint Adrian
According to sources available to us the Greek language passion of St. Adrian was written down in the 5th century the earliest. The Greek text was translated into Latin and a short version of this was included in the Legenda Aurea.
Saint Adrian and his Companions
Adrian suffered death under Maximian, emperor. For when the said Maximian was in the city of Nicodemia, whereas he sacrificed to the idols, and by his commandment they sought all christian men, some sought them for dread, and some for love, and some for promise of sllver, so that neighbour brought his neighbour to martyrdom, and cousin his cousin. Among whom three and thirty were taken of them that they sought, and brought tofore the king. And the king said to them: Have ye not heard what pain is ordained against the christian men? And they said to him: We have heard the commandment of thy folly. Then the king was angry and commanded that they should be beaten with raw sinews, and their mouths beaten with stones, and that each of their tongues should be pierced with iron, and that they should be bound and closed in prison. And then Adrian, which was first in the office of knighthood, said to them: I conjure you by your God that ye tell to me the reward that ye entend to have for these torments. And the holy man said that never eye saw, nor ear heard, ne heart of man might think, those things that our Lord maketh ready for them that love him perfectly. And Adrian leapt in the middle among them and said: Account ye me with them here, for I am a christian man. And when the emperor heard that, and that he would do no sacrifice, he did do bind him and threw him in prison.
And when Natalie his wife knew that her husband was in prison for the faith of Jesu Christ she was glad, and ran to the prison, and kissed the chains that her husband was bound with, and also of the others, for she was christian secretly, but she durst not publish it for dread of the persecution. And she said to her husband: Blessed art thou, my lord Adrian, for thou hast found the riches which thy father and mother never left to thee, which have need of them that possess many things, and shall have thereof great need when they shall have no time to borrow ne to take; when that one shall not deliver that other from pain, ne the father the son, ne the mother the daughter, ne the servant the master, ne one friend another friend, ne riches them that own them. And when she had admonished him that he should despise all worldly glory and friends and kindred, and that always he should have his heart unto celestial things, Adrian said to her: Go now, my sister, the time of our passion hasteth, of which thou shalt see our end. Then she recommended her husband unto the other saints that they should comfort him, and then she returned unto her house. And after, Adrian hearing when the day of his passion should be, gave gifts to the keepers of the prison, and delivered to them the other saints in pledge, and went to his house for to call Natalie, like as he had promised by oath that she should be present at their passion.
And a man that saw him come, ran tofore him, and said to Natalie: Adrian is delivered, see, lo! where he cometh. And when she heard it she believed it not, and said: And who may deliver him from his bonds? God forbid that he be loosed of his bonds, and departed from the saints. And as she said these words, a child of the meiny came, that said: Certes, my Lord is let go. And she supposed that he had fled from his martyrdom, and wept bitterly, and when she saw him she shut hastily the door against him. Let him be far from me, said she, that is fallen away from God, and God forbid that I speak to the mouth of him that renied his Lord. And then she turned to him and said: O thou wretch without God, who constrained thee to emprise and take which thou mayst not perform? Who hath taken thee from the saints, or who hath deceived thee for to depart from them? Say to me, wherefore art thou fled tofore thou sawest the battles? How art thou hurt? Certain it is of none arrow that was shot to thee. Certes, I should have marvelled if any of the people of the felons, and without God, had been offered to God, and how unhappy and how caitiff am I ! What shall I do that am joined to him that is of the lineage of felons? It is not granted to me to be the wife of a martyr but for a time, but now I shall be called the wife of a renegade and transgressor, my joy certainly hath little endured, and it shall be to me a reproach long time. And in hearing this thing the blessed Adrian enjoyed him strongly, and marvelled much of his wife that was so young and right fair, noble, and married but fourteen months without more, how she might say this, and therefore he was the more ardent to martyrdom, and heard gladly these words. But when he saw her overmuch tormented, he said to her: Open the door to me, Natalie, my love and lady, for I have not fled the martyrdom as thou weenest, but I am come to call thee, as I promised to thee. And she believed it not, but said to him: See how this traitor renegade deceiveth me, why liest thou? that other Judas! Flee, thou unhappy, from me or I shall slay myself; and then thou shalt be full sorry. And while she tarried to open the door, he said: Open anon, for I must go, and then thou shalt see me no more, and then shalt thou weep that thou hast not seen me tofore my death. I have laid to pledge for me the holy martyrs, and if the ministers seek me and they find me not, they shall cause the saints to suffer their martyrdom and mine also. And when she heard that, she opened the door, and they then embraced and kissed each other, and went together to the prison, and there Natalie cleansed, seven days during, the wounds of the saints with precious cloths. And then the emperor commanded them to be brought to him, and they were so broken with the pains that they might not go, but were borne as beasts. And Adrian certainly was bound, his hands behind him, and spake to Natalie, and was borne upon the torment of eculee and presented to Cæsar.
And Natalie joined her to him, and said to him: My lord, beware that thou tremble not for none adventure when thou shalt see the torments, thou shalt not suffer here but a little, but thou shalt be anon enhanced with the angels. And then Adrian would not sacrifice, and was beaten right grievously. And then Natalie ran to the saints that were in the prison, and said: My lord hath begun his martyrdom. And the king warned him that he should not blame his gods; and he answered: If I be thus tormented that blame them that be no gods, how shalt thou be tormented that blasphemest him that is very God! And the king said to him: These other traitors have taught thee these words. To whom Adrian said: Why callest thou them traitors, which be doctors and enseign the life perdurable? And Natalie ran to the others with great joy, and told the words that her husband had said. And then the king did him to be beaten with four strong men. And Natalie anon reported to the other martyrs that were in the prison all the martyrdom, the answers, and the pains of her husband, and he was so sore beaten that his entrails sprang out of his belly, and then he was bound with iron, and put in prison with the other. And Adrian was a young man, lusty and much fair, of eight-and-twenty years of age. And when Natalie saw her husband lie grovelling upon the earth, and all to-broken, she laid her hand on his head in comforting him, and said: Thou art blessed, my lord, for thou art made worthy to be of the number of saints; thou art blessed, my light, when thou sufferest for him that suffered death for thee: go then forth, my sweet love, that thou mayst see his glory. And when the emperor heard that many women ministered to the saints in prison, he commanded that they should no more be suffered to enter. And when Natalie heard that, she shaved her head and took the habit of man, and served the saints in the prison and made the other women do so by the ensample of her. And she prayed her husband when he should be in glory that he would pray for her, that she might keep her undefiled in this world, or rather to be taken out thereof. And when the king heard what the women had done, he commended to bring forth an anvil or a stithie, so that the holy martyrs should have their legs and arms all to-frusshed and broken thereon, and die the sooner. And then Natalie doubted that her husband should be afeard for the torments of the others, and prayed the ministers that they would begin with him. Then they hewed off his legs and thighs, and Natalie prayed them that they would smite off his hands, and that he should be like to the other saints that had suffered more than he, and when they had hewn them off he gave up his spirit to God. The other saints held forth their feet with their free will, and passed to our Lord. And the king commanded that the bodies should be burnt. And Natalie hid in her bosom the hand of S. Adrian. And when the bodies of the saints were thrown into the fire, Natalie would have with them sprung into the fire and be burnt, and suddenly anon there came a great rain and quenched the fire, so that the bodies of the saints had none harm. And the christian men took counsel together, and did do bear the bodies to Constantinople till that the peace was given to the church, that they were fetched again with honour. And they suffered death about the year of our Lord two hundred and four score.
Natalie then abode and dwelled in her house, and retained the hand of S. Adrian, and for to have comfort thereof she kept it always at her bed's head. And after the judge saw Natalie so fair, so rich, and so noble, by leave of the emperor he sent women to her because she should consent to him by marriage. To whom Natalie answered: Who is he that may do me so much honour that I may be joined to him by marriage? but I require you that I may have term of three days to array and make me ready. And this she said to the end that she might flee away. Then began she to pray our Lord that he would keep her from touching of man. And then suddenly she fell asleep, and one of the martyrs appeared to her and comforted her sweetly, and commanded her that she should go to the place where the holy bodies were. And when she awoke she took the hand of Adrian only with her, and entered into a ship with many christian men, and when the judge heard it he followed after with many knights, and then the wind came contrary to them, and drowned many, and constrained the others to return. And then in the night the devil appeared to them in guise of a mariner in a ship of phantasm, and said to them: From whence come ye, and whither go ye? And the christian men said: We come from Nicomedia and go unto Constantinople. And he said: Ye err, go towards the left side and ye shall sail more right. And he said so because he would have drowned them in the sea. And as they followed the stars, anon suddenly Adrian appeared to them in a boat, and bade them sail as they did before, and told to them that it was a wicked spirit that had spoken to them, and then he went tofore them and showed them the way; and when Natalie saw him go tofore them she was replenished with joy, so that tofore day they came to Constantinople. And when Natalie entered into the house where the martyrs were, she put the hand of Adrian to the body. And when she had made her prayers she slept. And S. Adrian appeared to her and saluted her, and commanded her that she should come with him to joy perdurable. And when she awoke she told to them that were there her vision, and took her leave, and after gave up her spirit to Almighty God. And then the good christian men took her body and laid it with the bodies of the martyrs.
Jacobus de Voragine: Legenda Aurea