Bas relief of a prince who lived during the Sasanian dynasty to which King Yazdegerd I belonged.
(died 421 A.D.)
Maharsapor is a Persian name that means “Professional Son of a King” or, probably, a prince.
Jesus told us that we might have to give witness to Him, even to sacrificing our lives rather than deny our faith in God. Saint Maharsapor gave up his life as a witness to his faith.
Maharsapor lived about 400 years after Jesus did in the country of Persia. Persia was an ancient kingdom inside what is now the country of Iran. The three kings who visited Christ when he was born came, historians believe, from Persia. These were the Magi, high priests of the Zoroastrian religion.
Maharsapor was of noble birth. He could have been a minor prince in Persia. The King of Persia, King Yazdegerd, was a peaceful ruler who allowed Christians to worship as they pleased. The Christians prayed for King Yazdegerd because he was so kind to them.
However, in the year 420, a Christian bishop was accused of burning down one of the Zoroastrian temples when he and the Magi disagreed. King Yazdegerd ordered the bishop to rebuild the temple, but he refused. This angered King Yazdegerd who ordered that Christian churches be destroyed.
At the same time, the King appointed a prime minister who violently opposed Christianity and supported Zoroastrianism. He turned the King’s attitude so much against Christians that the King began a persecution.
Maharsapor was one of the first Christians to be seized, probably because he was a prince and well known to the King as a Christian. A judge who had once been a slave condemned two other Christians to torture and death. Maharsapor was tortured, too, but then imprisoned for three years where he lived in total darkness and filth with very little to eat.
However, this prince continued to maintain his faith in Christ each time he was questioned until finally the judge ordered him to be thrown into a pit to starve to death. Several days later, soldiers opened the pit and found Maharsapor’s dead body kneeling as if he had died in prayer.
Christians are still persecuted in many places. Maharsapor and many other Christians died for no wrong they had done. Despite this unfair and cruel treatment, they maintained their faith in Jesus. May we bear witness to Christ no matter what we may suffer.