Sunday, September 26, 2021

St John the Baptist – Nativity, Passion and Beheading (Death)

Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist is celebrated on June 24. Memorial of the Passion St John the Baptist (Beheading) is held on August 29 every year

Saint John the Baptist Biography
Birth of Saint John the Baptist
Birth of Saint John the Baptist
Date of Birth Late 1st century BC
Place of Birth Israel in Asia
Profession Baptist
Place of Work Israel
Date of Death AD 31 – 32
Place of Death Machaerus, Perea, the Levant
Feast Day Nativity – June 24
Passion – August 29
Canonization Pre-Congregation
Patron Saint of See Patronage at the bottom

The Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist

Saint John the Baptist was also known as

  • Yochanan ben Zecharyah
  • Juan Bautista
  • John, son of Zachary
  • John the Forerunner
  • John the Baptizer
  • Joannes Baptista
  • Iohannes Baptista

He was born some years before Jesus Christ was born around late 1st century BC.

John the Baptist is revered in the Christian and Islam faiths. In the New Testament, John is said to be the one who prophesied the coming of Messiah who is greater than himself and he is not fit even to untie the laces of His sandals. John came to prepare and clear the way for Jesus’s public ministry on earth and baptized Him as it is written in the accounts of the New Testament.

In the Gospel of Mark, John the Baptist is portrayed as he who came to fulfill a prophesy found in the Books of Isaiah, Malachi and Exodus that there will be a messenger who would be sent ahead with a voice crying out in the desert. John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin and said there will be another one who will come after him and who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and not water. John is also portrayed as wearing clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, eating wild honey and locusts.

The Gospel of John describes John the Baptist as

6 A man named John was sent from God.
7 He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.
8 He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.

John 1:6-8

In the Gospel of John 4:35, Jesus describes John the Baptist as a burning and shining lamp.

John the Baptist was the son of Zechariah, a priest, and his wife Elizabeth. At the time of his birth, his parents were very advanced in age and therefore unable to sire children. John’s mother, Elizabeth, was a relative of Mary the mother of Jesus, making John and Jesus Christ being related.

The Archangel Gabriel foretold John’s birth to Zechariah while he was in the temple of Jerusalem. He announced to him that he and his wife would be blessed and give birth to a son, whom they should name John. The name John was very unfamiliar in the family of Zechariah and Elizabeth and therefore, Zechariah did not believe the angel’s message. Because of his unbelief, Zechariah was struck mute until when John was born.

When John the Baptist was born, Zechariah’s kins wanted to name him after his father but Zechariah, since he was still mute, wrote, “His name is John”, and immediately he regained his speech again. After this, Zechariah uttered what is now called The Benedictus, (also called Song of Zechariah or Canticle of Zachary) during the circumcision of John the Baptist as a form of thanksgiving to God. This is found in Gospel of Luke 1:68–79.

The Benedictus (Song of Zechariah or Canticle of Zachary)

68 “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and brought redemption to his people.
69 He has raised up a horn for our salvation within the house of David his servant,
70 even as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old:
71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us,
72 to show mercy to our fathers and to be mindful of his holy covenant
73 and of the oath he swore to Abraham our father, and to grant us that,
74 rescued from the hand of enemies, without fear we might worship him
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God by which the daybreak from on high will visit us
79 to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

The Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist was placed on June 24, which is three months after the celebration of the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord on March 25, and six months before the Christmas.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Nativity of John the Baptist was changed from a feast to a solemnity in 1970. If it falls on a Sunday, it takes precedence over that Sunday.

The Memorial of The Passion of Saint John the Baptist

John the Baptist always spoke the truth about the Kingdom of God and how people should live in order to inherit it. He never shied away from confronting someone who went against the Will of God. This is what put him into trouble with Herodias.

Herodias was the wife of Philip. Philip was the brother of King Herod. Now, Herodias divorced Philip and went to get married to King Herod who had also divorced his wife Phasaelis, the daughter of King Aretas IV of Nabatea. It was this proposed marriage that John the Baptist publicly criticized to the chagrin of Herodias.

The Passion of Saint John the Baptist
The Passion of Saint John the Baptist

She harboured a grudge against John the Baptist and wanted him to be killed. But King Herod wouldn’t do just that because he regarded John as a righteous man and also feared the people who also regarded John as a prophet. So he had him put into prison until this day when there was a banquet at the Kings Palace.

Salome, Herodias’ daughter, performed a dance that made King Herod pulsate with joy. While he was drunk, He boasted of how he was proud of her and that he could give her anything she requested for. By sheer coincidence, she went to ask her mother what she would like her to ask for as a reward and as fate would have it, Herodias, like a shrewd serpent, got her opportunity to strike and eliminate John the Baptist once and for all. She demanded for the Head of John the Baptist on a platter.

King Herod though, liked John the Baptist and liked to hear him talk. But due to his stature as a king, who wouldn’t go against his own word, he had no other option but to fulfill his promise. John the Baptist, a man of God, full of honour, was beheaded in prison and his head was brought to Herodias.

The feast of the Passion of St John the Baptist is one of the oldest in the Church. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates the feast day on August 29.

St John the Baptist is the Patron Saint of

  • Jordan
  • Baptism
  • Tailors
  • Printers
  • Motorways
  • Monastic life
  • Lambs
  • Innkeepers
  • French Canadians
  • Farriers
  • Epileptics
  • Cutters
  • Convulsive children
  • Converts
  • bird dealers
  • Baptism
  • Against spasms
  • Against hailstorms
  • Against hail
  • Against epilepsy
  • Against convulsions

Europe

  • Penzance, Cornwall, United Kingdom
  • Perth, Scotland
  • Porto, Portugal
  • Malta
    • Xewkija
    • Gozo
  • Knights Hospitaller of
    • Jerusalem
    • Malta
    • Florence
    • Cesena
    • Turin
    • Genoa, Italy

Americas

  • The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
    • San Juan
  • French Canada and Newfoundland
  • City of St. John’s, Newfoundland
  • City of saint John, New Brunswick
  • City of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec
  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina, United States

Southeast Asia

Philippines

  • Calamba City
  • Laguna
  • Calumpit
  • Bulacan
  • Balayan and Lian in Batangas
  • Sipocot and San Fernando
  • Camarines Sur
  • Daet
  • Camarines Norte San Juan
  • Metro Manila
  • Tabuelan
  • Cebu
  • Jimenez
  • Misamis Occidental
  • Diocese of Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo
  • Diocese of Savannah, Georgia, United States
  • Diocese of Saint John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
  • Diocese of Portland, Maine, United States
  • Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey, United States
  • Diocese of Nicolet, Québec, Canada
  • Diocese of Ndalatando, Angola
  • Diocese of Dodge City, Kansas
  • Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina
  • Diocese of Belley-Ars, France
  • Diocese of Auchi, Nigeria
  • Diocese of Aquino-Pontecorvo, Italy
  • Diocese of Almenara, Brazil,
  • Archdiocese of Genoa, Italy

Representation

St John the Baptist is often represented as below

Representation

  • Tall, thin cross
  • Slender cross
  • Skin of an animal
  • Severed head on a platter
  • Lamb
  • Cross in hand

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