It was the fifth century and Yezdegerd, son of Sapor III, was ruling Persia. There was little persecution of Christians during this time, however, a Christian bishop named Abdas changed that. Abdas, in his zeal and out of righteous anger toward idolatry, burned the Temple of Fire, the sacred sanctuary of the Persians. This act infuriated King Yezdegerd and he declared that Bishop Abdas would either rebuild the Persian temple or the king would burn all the Christian churches.
When Abdas refused to obey the king’s command, he carried out his order and had all the Christian churches utterly destroyed. Abdas was put to death and a great persecution of Christians in Persia began which lasted for the next forty years. Even though Yezdegerd died in 421, his son, Varanes continued the persecution. Under the reign of this ruler, Christians were subject to heinous and cruel torture.
One Christian who was living during this time was Benjamin. Benjamin was a deacon who was serving time in prison for openly declaring his Christian faith. He had been in prison for a year when an ambassador of the Emperor of Constantinople was able to secure his release. The condition of his release, however, was that he would not speak about his faith. Apparently the ambassador consented to this condition on Benjamin’s behalf in order to obtain his release, but Benjamin was not about to be silenced. He said it was his duty to evangelize and tell others about Christ and there was no way he would be quiet. Therefore, he continued his preaching and was again arrested and brought before King Varanes. This evil King ordered that reeds be pushed under his fingernails and in other areas of his body to inflict great pain and then be pulled out. This cruel procedure was repeated many times. He was then impaled by thrusting a long stake into his bowels up through his body, ripping through vital organs. Thus, Benjamin became a martyr for his Christian faith in the year 424.
Benjamin took seriously the words of our Lord Who said, “whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven” (Mt 10:33). Benjamin would not deny the Lord and so he suffered the terrible consequences thrust upon him by evil rulers. Unless we are willing to lose our lives for Christ’s sake, we will not inherit His Kingdom, nor should we. Today, give your heart to Jesus and live your life for Him, that He may prepare a place for you in His Eternal Kingdom.
Dear Jesus, May we never fear voicing our love for You. We pray that, like Saint Benjamin, we witness our faith always, even in the face of adversity. Amen
Other Saints We Remember Today
Blessed Jane of Toulouse (1286), Foundress of the Carmelite Third Order