Today Christians Remember the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist

Martyrdom St John the BaptistMartyrdom of St. John the Baptist –Image: Archbishop Jose Gomez

(EWTN) St. John the Baptist was called by God to be the forerunner of His divine Son. In order to preserve his innocence spotless and improve the extraordinary graces which he had received, he was directed by the Holy Ghost to lead an austere and contemplative life in the wilderness and in the continual exercises of devout prayer and penance, from his infancy until he was 30 yrs of age.

Subsequently this faithful minister began to discharge his mission. Clothed with the weeds of penance, John the Baptist announced to all mankind the obligation they lay under of washing away their iniquities with the tears of sincere contrition and proclaimed the Messiah–Who was then coming to make His appearance among them.

John the Baptist was received by the people as the true Herald of the Most High God and his voice was as it were, a trumpet sounding from Heaven to summon all mankind to avert the divine judgments and to prepare themselves to reap the benefit of divine mercy that was offered them.

The Roman Emperor Herod Antipas (who bore the title ‘Tetrarch’ meaning Ruler of a Quarter) having in defiance of all laws divine and human, married Herodias. the wife of his brother Philip was was yet living.

John the Baptist boldly reprimanded the Tetrarch Herod and his accomplice for such a scandalous and indecent act of adultery– Herod urged on by his lust and anger cast John the Baptist into prison.

About one year later, Herod gave a lavish party for the nobility of Galilee. Salome, daughter of Herodias (of her lawful husband) pleased Herod by her dancing so much that he promised to grant her whatever she wanted. — Salome consulted with her mother of what to ask for? Herodias instructed her daughter to demand the death of John the Baptist and his head be brought to her in a dish.

This most peculiar request even startled the tyrant Herod but he agreed, sending a Soldier of his guard to behead John the Baptist in prison, with an Order to deliver his head in a charger (large dish) and present it to Salome who would later deliver it to her mother — St. Jerome relates that the wrathful Herodias made it her inhuman pastime to prick the sacred tongue bodkin (thick needle) hence, John the Baptist died. The great forerunner of our Blessed Savior a little more than 2 years after his entrance in his public ministry and about a year before the death of our Blessed Redeemer.

More here by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

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