This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

March 31 -- Feast of Saint Benjamin the Deacon

Benjamin the Deacon
Benjamin had the misfortune to be a deacon in the Sassanid Persian kingdom, which had been safe for the Christian minority until some damn zealot burned down a temple in AD 420.  That called down a brutal persecution by King Isdergerdes, and when he was assassinated (not by Christians), by his son Bahram V.  Bahram pursued the elimination of Christians with diligence and enthusiasm worthy of a Roman emperor, but oddly enough, Benjamin the Deacon found some modicum of clemency.  The fact that he refused it may have demonstrated his courage and commitment, but it might have made it harder for any other Christians to get clemency.  I reckon that ought to be considered by anyone who got busted by the Sassanid regime. 

Bahram V, Sassanid King of Persia
One of King Bahram's men told Benjamin that he was being released from prison (he'd been in a dungeon for about a year) on the condition that he never preach again.  Benjamin of course rejected the offer, but the royal emissary figured it would be okay to release him anyway.  He went right back to preaching the Gospel, whereupon he was rearrested.

Sometimes examples have to be made.  We have heard of reeds being driven under the fingernails and toenails before. This was even done in North Vietnamese prison camps to American POWs.  But the Sassanid torturers added a layer of cruelty.  After driving reeds under the nails, they'd yank them back out.  After a little while, they'd come back with fresh reeds and drive those in.

Even that gets old after a while.  [At least I imagine it does. I'll pass on testing my hypothesis.]  When they felt he'd had (almost) enough, they put him out of his misery by impaling him on a knotty stake.  It is described as going into his bowels; the path it took is left to our imagination.