Saints of the Day – Natalia of Nicomedia, Widow

detail from an antique icon of Saint Natalie of NicomediaArticle

Died on December 1, c.311. The story is told that after a turbulent life, Saint Natalia died peacefully in Argyropolis near Constantinople. She was the young Christian wife of an imperial officer of Nicomedia named Adrian. Her husband was so impressed by the patient suffering of some persecuted Christians that he openly declared he was a Christian himself, though he had not yet been baptized.

Adrian was at once thrown in jail, where Natalia visited him and arranged for his instruction in the faith. It is said the Natalia also ministered bravely to other imprisoned Christians during the persecution of Diocletian. After Adrian had been sentenced to death visitors were forbidden to him, but Natalia disguised herself as a boy and bribed her way in to ask him to pray for her in heaven.

At Adrian’s execution, Natalia watched as her husband was broken limb by limb. After his death on September 8 about the year 304, a fire was built to burn the bodies of the martyrs, so that there would be nothing left for burial. Natalia had to be restrained from casting herself into the fire when Adrian’s body was burned. A rain storm put out the fire, and Christians gathered the remains and buried them.

Natalia managed to recover Adrian’s hand, then fled to Argyropolis, on the Bosporus, to escape the importune wooing of another imperial official. When Natalia died she was buried among the martyrs. It is not known what, if any, truth lies behind this romantic tale. There were apparently two Adrians martyred at Nicomedia, one under Diocletian, the other under Licinius. In art she is shown holding her husband’s hand (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Roeder).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 August 2020. Web. 29 November 2020. <>