St John the Baptist

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Most information about St John the Baptist comes from the Gospels. The Roman historian Josephus also mentions him. He was the son of Zachariah a Temple priest and Elizabeth, a quite old cousin of the Virgin Mary. An angel foretold his birth, adding that he would prepare people for the Lord. Scriptures tell us that when Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus, came to visit Elizabeth, the infant John leapt in his mother's womb in recognition of the Lord.

When he grew up, John went out into the wilderness dressed in camel skin, and preached and baptised in the River Jordan.

"Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." he cried. "I baptise you with water but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."

When Jesus asked to be baptised by John he was reluctant to do this, saying: "I need to be baptised by you." Jesus said of him: "there is not a greater prophet." He said of Jesus: "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."

Following his baptism of Christ, John's popularity grew so much 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. John the Baptist died sometime between 28 and 36 AD.

John the Baptist's feast day is June 24. The anniversary of his death is kept on this day.

John the Baptist is the patron saint of Jordan, Puerto Rico, French Canada and many other places.