An icon of Mar Behnam and his sister in the Coptic Museum.
|Venerated in||Syriac Christianity
Syriac Orthodox Church
Assyrian Church of the East
Syrian Catholic Church
Chaldean Catholic Church
also venerated in
Coptic Orthodox Church
|Major shrine||Monastery of Mar Behnam and Mart Sara, Nimrud, Iraq|
Mar Behnam was born in the 4th century to Sennacherib II, the Assyrian pagan king of Asuristan. During a hunting trip at Mount Alfaf he met Mar Mattai where he was converted to Christianity and became a disciple of Mar Mattai. He later brought his sister Sara to be healed of leprosy and they were both baptised alongside Behnam's forty companions.
Upon learning of his children's conversion, Sennacherib attempted to convince them to denounce their faith, however they fled to Mar Behnam's hermitage. The king sent soldiers to intercept them who killed his children and their forty companions on a hill near Nimrud. The king later regretted his actions and was himself baptised by Mar Mattai. He also built a monastery on the mount where Mar Mattai healed his daughter.
In the 6th century, a Persian merchant built a shrine on the hill where Mar Behnam died, this later became a large monastery that came to be administered by the Jacobites until 1839 when it was passed to Syriac Catholics. The monastery is traditionally administered by a priest chosen from Bakhdida.
Other monasteries also exist in the name of the saint, including some in Syria and Egypt.
Mar Behnam and his sister Sara are honoured on 10 December by both the Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic churches. He is also considered a martyr and a saint by both the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Church.
- القديس مار متى الناسك والشهداء مار بهنام وسارة ورفاقهما الأربعين, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
- http://niranamchurch.com/StBehanam.htm, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
- Two thousand years of Coptic Christianity, Otto Friedrich August Meinardus