About St. John
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST
1st Century BC — 30 AD
Feast Day June 24
Patron Saint of baptism, converts, lambs, monastics, book sellers, printers, tailors, bird dealers, heart patients, firefighters, Jordan, Puerto Rico, and French Canada.
At the Annunciation, when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary to inform her that she would conceive of the Holy Ghost, he also informed her that Elizabeth, her cousin, was already six months pregnant. Mary then journeyed to visit Elizabeth. Luke's Gospel recounts that the baby "leapt" in Elizabeth's womb at the greeting of Mary.
The sole biblical account of the birth of John the Baptist comes from the Gospel of Luke. John's parents, Zechariah (Zachary) — a Jewish priest — and Elizabeth, were without children and both were beyond the age of child-bearing. During Zechariah's rotation to serve in the Temple in Jerusalem, he was chosen by lot to offer incense at the Golden Altar in the Holy Place. The Archangel Gabriel appeared to him and announced that he and his wife would give birth to a child, and that they should name him John, a name which was unfamiliar in Zechariah and Elizabeth's families.
However, because Zechariah did not believe the message of Gabriel, he was rendered speechless until the time of John's birth. At that time, his relatives wanted to name the child after his father, and Zechariah wrote, "His name is John" whereupon he recovered his ability to speak. Following Zechariah's obedience to the command of God, he was given the gift of prophecy, and foretold the future ministry of Jesus.
John began public ministry around 30 AD, and was known for attracting large crowds across the province of Judaea and around the Jordan River. When Jesus came to him to be baptized, John recognized him and said, "It is I who need baptism from you."
Jesus told John to baptize Him anyway, which he did, whereupon the heavens opened, and the Spirit of God was seen like a dove. The voice of God spoke, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
John instructed his followers to turn to Christ, calling Him the "Lamb of God" and these people were among the first Christians.
Following his baptism of Christ, John's popularity grew so much that he alarmed King Herod. Herod ordered him arrested and imprisoned.
John spoke with Herod on several occasions and condemned his marriage to his half-brother's wife.
This condemnation would be his downfall as King Herod promised to grant a wish to his daughter. In revenge for John the Baptist's condemnation of her mother's scandalous marriage to Herod, she asked for John's head. King Herod reluctantly obliged and John was beheaded.
Jesus called John the greatest of all those who had preceded him: “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John ...” The greatness of John, his pivotal place in the history of salvation, is seen in the great emphasis Luke gives to the announcement of his birth and the event itself — both made prominently parallel to the same occurrences in the life of Jesus.