Saints & Martyrs

Saint John the Baptist

John the Baptist (d. ca. 30), cousin and precursor of Jesus Christ. John was miraculously born to the elderly Elizabeth, cousin of Mary, and her husband Zachariah, a Temple priest. He baptized Jesus in the River Jordan and was among the first to recognize his cousin as the Messiah. John was beheaded by King Herod at the request of the latter's wife, Herodias, and her daughter Salome.

Excerpt from The Golden Legend

For, as it is had in Historia Scholastica, Herod Antipas, son of the great Herod, went to Rome and passed by the house of Philip his brother, and began to love the wife of his brother, which was named Herodias, wife of the same Philip, his brother ... And when Herod returned, he took away the wife of Philip his brother, and wedded her, and left his own ... And [St.] John said to him that he had not done well to do so, because after the law it appertained not to him to have and hold the wife of his brother living. And Herod saw that John reproved him of this thing so cruelly, as Josephus sai[d], because he reproved him of blame ... and put [St.] John in prison, but he would not slay him for doubt of the people, which much loved John, and followed him for his predication.

And Herod and Herodias, coveting occasion against [St.] John how they might make him die, ordained between them secretly that, when Herod should make the feast of his nativity[,] the daughter of Herodias should demand a gift of Herod for dancing and springing at the feast [be]fore the principal princes of his realm, and he should swear to her by his oath that he shall grant it her ... And when the feast was assembled, the maid was there springing and dancing [be]fore them all, in such wise that it pleased much to all. And then sw[o]re the king that he would give to her what[e]ver she required, though she demanded half his kingdom. And then she, warned by her mother, demanded the head of St. John Baptist ... Then the hangman came and smote off his head and delivered it to the maid, the which she laid in a platter and presented it at the dinner to her mischievous mother.

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