Thursday, May 6, 2021

Saints for Today: Benjamin, Deacon & Martyr (d. 421)

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Jean M. Lee, M.A., D.Min., is a licensed behavioral health and substance abuse counselor, founding a nonprofit, state-licensed behavior health counseling agency and Christian gift/book store. Volunteer work includes: Jail ministry, Legion of Mary membership, door-to-door evangelization, and writing a weekly newspaper column titled “Faith and Inspiration: Encyclopedia of Saints for Today.” A Catholic revert after 32 years away from the Church, she is devout in the Catholic faith, loves the saints, and lives a deeper spiritual/religious and more joyful life since returning to the Church.

Feast Day: March 31

Benjamin was a martyr of Persia (modern Iran), a deacon during the persecution of Christians in the fifth century. The Christians in Persia had enjoyed twelve years of peace during the reign of Isdegerd, son of Sapor III, when in 420 it was disturbed by the indiscreet zeal of Abdas, a Christian Bishop who burned the Temple of Fire, the great sanctuary of the Persians. King Isdegerd threatened to destroy all the churches of the Christians unless the Bishop would rebuild it.

As Abdas refused to comply, the threat was executed; the Christian churches were demolished, Abdas himself was put to death, and a general persecution began which lasted forty years. Isdegerd died in 421, but his son and successor, Varanes, carried on the persecution with such great fury. The Christians were submitted to the cruelest tortures.

Among those who suffered was Benjamin, a Deacon, who had been imprisoned a year for his Christian faith. At the end of this period, an ambassador of the Emperor of Constantinople obtained his release on condition that he would never speak to any of the courtiers about religion. Benjamin started preaching again. He declared it was his duty to preach Christ and that he could not be silent.

Although Benjamin had been liberated on the agreement made with the ambassador and the Persian authorities, he would not acquiesce in it, and neglected no opportunity of preaching. According to his hagiography, when the king was apprised that Benjamin refused to stop preaching, he was again arrested and brought before the king. The tyrant ordered that reeds should be thrust in between his nails and his flesh and into all the tenderest parts of his body and then withdrawn. After this torture had been repeated several times, a knotted stake was inserted into his bowels to rend and tear him. The martyr expired in the most terrible agony.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
Bunson, Matthew and Margaret Bunson. “Encyclopedia of Saints-Second Edition.” Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 2014.
“St. Benjamin”. Catholic Online. 29 March 2017. Web. 29 March 2017. 

“Saint Benjamin the Deacon and Martyr”. Wikipedia. 29 March 2017. Web 29 March 2017. 

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