John Baptist, Saint

John Baptist, Saint
   The forerunner of our Lord who was sent to prepare the way for His coming. He was miraculously born of Zacharias and Elizabeth, both being "old and well-stricken in years." Although he suffered martyrdom, he is commemorated on the day of his Nativity, as his birth heralded the Incarnation. The Festival of the Nativity of St. John Baptist has been observed since the fourth or fifth century on June 24th, as this was undoubtedly the day of his birth, since he was six months older than our Lord. This date, also, is supposed to be connected with his words, "He must increase, but I must decrease." The days after June 24th begin to decrease in length, but after the Christmas Tide they begin to increase. St. John was beheaded by Herod Antipas, when he was about thirty years old. He was a Prophet, the greatest of all -- the last Prophet of the Old Dispensation and the first of the New, and our Lord declared that among all previously born of women none was greater than John the Baptist. In ecclesiastical art St. John Baptist is variously represented, with a lamb on a book, small cross, close crown or cap; with tunic of camel's hair; cope fastened with two leather thongs crossed; with lamb and locust; his head on a dish.

American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. — New York, Thomas Whittaker. . 1901.

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