In this episode of “Walking The Way with The Saints”, we focus on Sts. Behnam and Sarah, the offspring of the Assyrian king Sennacherib who lived within the Sassanian Persian Empire. We remember them on December 10 according to the Syriac Orthodox Liturgical calendar. Saad Makadsi presents us with his research into their lives and how their faith led them to martyrdom under the command of their father for not renouncing their faith in Christianity and returning to their pagan roots.
The story began when one day Behnam went out with forty of his servants to hunt on the mountain. He saw a big beast and chased it for a long time until he was separated from his servants. The night came and it was too late for him to reunite with his group, so he had to spend the night away. In his sleep someone said to him, “Go to Saint Matthew who you’ll find between the caves. He would pray for your sister (she was afflicted with an incurable disease, leprosy) so the Lord may heal her.”
When he woke up from his sleep, he met with his servants, and they searched for St. Matthew until they found him in a cave. Behnam bowed down in front of the saint and informed him of the vision he had dreamed about and asked the saint to go with him to Nineveh, Behnam’s home city.
St. Matthew left his cave and headed with them to Nineveh. Behnam preceded him to tell his mother about the vision and St. Matthew. Due to her love for her children she allowed his sister to go with him in secret to meet the Saint. St. Matthew prayed for her, then the Lord healed her.
St. Matthew prayed for her, then the Lord healed her. St. Matthew preached and taught them along with a considerable number of their servants (many sources say they were the 40 knights who served St. Behnam) the way of life. He baptized them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the one true God, and returned to his place. When King Sennacherib learned of his daughter’s recovery, he called her to him and asked her about how she had recovered, and she said to him: “It is the Lord Jesus Christ who granted me healing at the hand of Saint Matthew, and not the planets that you worship.”
So the king was angry at his children and threatened them with punishment if they did not turn away from their new found faith. When the night came, Saint Behnam and his sister decided that they would go with their converted friends to St. Matthew to say goodbye to him before their death. When their father knew about their plan, he sent soldiers after them to kill them. When the soldiers returned they saw that the king had been struck by an evil spirit, and it was tormenting him painfully.
So the queen sent to St. Matthew and pleaded with him to come and pray for the king. The Saint came and prayed for the king and the Lord healed him immediately. Later on, he began to teach them about The Lord, so they, and then, everyone in the city believed. Then the king built a great monastery for the saint and he placed the bodies of his two children in it, and the saint dwelt in it for a long time, and the Lord revealed many signs of healing to the many people who visited the monastery.
May the prayers and blessing of Sts. Behnam and Sarah be with us all and glory be to God forever, Amen!
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