Saint Adrian of Nicodemia: The Experience That Made Him A Saint

Saint Adrian of Nicodemia was also known as Saint Hadrian. He was a pagan, as many of his time were, and he served as an officer at the imperial court of Nicodemia.  At the time of the Roman Empire, Christians were often ridiculed and persecuted for their belief in one God.  Pagan belief centered on faith in many gods.  Saint Adrian was originally a pagan but was not particularly religious in any way.
One might ask how a man of little if any faith at all went from pagan prison guard to Christian saint.  It was a meeting with a group of persecuted Christians that would change Saint Adrian and ultimately lead to his martyrdom.

As a prison guard, Adrian would be in charge of watching over a group of prisoners.  One day, a group of Christians that were being tortured and marked for execution came under his guard.  At first, he thought they were silly, devoting their lives to Christianity and sacrificing their lives for a belief in one God, that would get them nowhere.  He decided to ask them why they were so ready to sacrifice their lives for Christianity. They responded by saying, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). These words, and the courage that this group showed, so impressed Saint Adrian that he publicly declared himself a christian. His immediate imprisonment followed, and he was excruciatingly tortured along with the others.  He was then put to a horrible death, having his limbs cut off one by one, and he was eventually beheaded. As the Roman soldiers began to collect the remains for burning, a violent bolt of lightning came down and struck many of them, the rest went  fleeing.

Upon hearing this, Christians flocked to the site of Adrian and the other Christians remains and gave them Christian rites and a proper cremation.  They were so moved by these events that they made Adrian a saint pre-congregation, which simply means he was made a saint before the modern day system was set up.  Saint Adrian is known as the patron saint of prison guards and soldiers, as well as arms dealers, butchers and communications phenomena.  For many ages he was the chief military saint of Northern Europe.  He is especially revered in Flanders, Germany and in the north of France. He is often represented as being armed with and anvil in his hands or at his feet.

The feast of Saint Adrian is celebrated alone on September 8th in the Roman Catholic Church.  However, in the Eastern Orthodox Church he is celebrated on September 8th along with his wife, Natalia, who also converted to Christianity along with Adrian.

The events leading to Adrian becoming a saint are questioned historically.  It is believed that there may have been two Adrians that suffered martyrdom in Nicodemia around the same time, one under Diocletian, and one under Licinius. Whether or not the story is completely accurate it serves as a story of inspiration for all Catholics and Christians.  Saint Adrian was so moved by the courage of Christians and the love he felt from God when he opened his heart to Him.  He was not afraid to die, and proudly professed his faith.  He knew God would be there with open arms to welcome him into  the kingdom of Heaven.