John The Forerunner

Today is the Feast of Saint John the Baptist.  Many people don’t know, or realize, Saint John was Christ’s cousin and that he 1304242137_st.-john-the-baptist0002was only six months older than Christ.

After John baptized Christ, he then began preaching Christ was the Messiah and sent some of his disciples to Christ.

How long did John’s ministry last?  I was unsure of this myself and called my beloved Father Tom of Saint Andrew’s Orthodox Church here in Lexington and asked him.  According to Father Tom, we really don’t know how long Saint John the Forerunner’s ministry was.

Because Saint John the Forerunner spoke out against Herold who had left lawful wife for his brother Phillip’s wife while Phillip was alive, Herod had him thrown into prison.  I don’t believe prison really silenced such a man as John.  I have often wondered how many he converted and talked to from his prison cell.  Why do I think this?  Because after his beheading and death, there is a tradition that John went to Hades and preached to those there about the coming of the Messiah.

Most everyone knows what brought about his beheading:  a dance and a promised magnificent reward up to half of Herod’s kingdom.  Herod didn’t want to kill John, but his boastful words had put him in a position he could not deny his stepdaughter what she asked for (per her mother’s coaching).  Personally I believe Salome would have preferred to have jewels and not the head of a preacher, but, nonetheless, this is what she asked for.

According to Tradition, the mouth of the dead preacher of repentance once more opened and proclaimed: “Herod, you should not have the wife of your brother Philip.” Salome took the platter with the head of St John and gave it to her mother. The frenzied Herodias repeatedly stabbed the tongue of the prophet with a needle and buried his holy head in a unclean place. But the pious Joanna, wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, buried the head of John the Baptist in an earthen vessel on the Mount of Olives, where Herod had a parcel of land. (The Uncovering of the Venerable Head is celebrated (February 24). The holy body of John the Baptist was taken that night by his disciples and buried at Sebastia, there where the wicked deed had been done.

The above is from the OCA page

What happened to Salome?  According to tradition and the OCA page …

Salome, crossing the River Sikoris in winter, fell through the ice. The ice gave way in such a way that her body was in the water, but her head was trapped above the ice….  Thus she was trapped until that time when the sharp ice cut through her neck.

Salome’s body was never found, but her head was brought to Herod and Herodias.  Doesn’t that sound familiar?  I wonder if her head was put on a platter when it was brought to them?  I am sure the similarity was not lost upon them.

Herod and Herodias were not “safe” from problems, but that is another story and another article, one of which I need to do more research on before posting here.  I would also like to verify what I find with my priest.

Traditionally on this day, Orthodox Christians such as myself do not touch knives of any kind (unless you happen to be a nurse or a doctor, where you cannot avoid such items in order, usually to help someone, or perhaps save their lives), we do not eat from plates, we do not eat any meat.  Some go so far as to not eat anything round.

Saint John is also revered in several faiths.


About Henrietta Handy

I am a Kentucky mountain girl far from home, perhaps far from the girl years. I am an aspiring writer with a wonderful husband who puts up with this writing and reading addiction I have. He also puts up with all of the yarn and knitting. I have four canine children and a ton of friends I love dearly. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 2 1/2 and have still managed to have a good life despite all the pain. So, I invite you to join me in this journey and just possibly have fun along the way.
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One Response to John The Forerunner

  1. Brian Bixby says:

    I don’t think of the Orthodox Church being in Kentucky, partly because I’m more used to thinking of the Greek Orthodox Church. So I’ve had a bit of fun and education following your link and beyond to find out about the Antiochan Archdiocese. Thanks.


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