Saint of the Day – 31 March – St Benjamin the Deacon (Died c 424) Deaco and Martyr. Benjamin was executed during a period of persecution of Christians that lasted forty years and through the reign of two Persian kings: Isdegerd I, who died in 421 and his son and successor, Varanes V. King Varanes carried on the persecution with such great fury, that Christians were submitted to the most cruel tortures.
Benjamin was imprisoned for a year for his Christian faith and later released under the condition, that he abandon preaching or speaking of his religion. His release was obtained by the Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II through an Ambassador. However, Benjamin declared that it was his duty to preach about Christ and that he could not be silent. As a consequence, Benjamin was tortured mercilessly, until his death in the year 424, specifically, “sharpened reeds [were] stuck under the nails of his fingers and toes.”
According to his hagiography, when the Emperor was apprised of the fact, that Benjamin refused to stop preaching, he “… caused reeds to be run in between the nails and the flesh, both of his hands and feet, and to be thrust into other most tender parts and drawn out again and this, to be frequently repeated with violence. Lastly, a knotty stake was thrust into his bowels, to rend and tear them, in which torment he expired….”
He is mentioned also in the Roman Martyrology on 31 March.