Feast Day: September 5th & June 24th
The Life of Prophet Zacharias: Once, during his turn of Priestly Service in the Temple, Saint Zacharias was told by an Angel that his aged wife would bear him a son…
Synaxis of Prophet Zacharias and Saint Elizabeth: June 24th
Troparion: The memory of Your Prophets Zachariah and Elizabeth we celebrate today, O Lord. By their Prayers, we beseech You, O Christ God, save our Souls!
Apolytikion: In the Vesture of a Priest, according to the Law of God, thou didst offer unto Him well-pleasing whole-burnt offerings, as it befitted a Priest, O Wise Zacharias. Thou wast a shining light, a seer of Mysteries, bearing in thyself clearly the signs of Grace; and in God’s Temple, O Wise Prophet of Christ God, thou wast slain with the sword. Hence, with the Forerunner, make entreaty that our Souls find Salvation.
Kontakion: On this day the Prophet and Venerable Priest of the Most High, even Zacharias, who begat the Forerunner, hath now mixed for us the draught of Virtue and set the table of his Sacred memory nourishing all the faithful; for this cause do we extol him as a most Godly initiate of Grace Divine.
Hymn: O wise Zacharias, wrapped in the Vestment of Priesthood, you offered in a manner fitting a Priest acceptable whole burnt offerings according to the Law of God. You became a beacon and one who contemplated Mysteries, manifestly bearing in yourself, O all-wise one, the symbols of Grace. Slain by the sword in God’s Temple, Prophet of Christ, intercede with the Forerunner that our Souls may be saved.
Hymn: You served blamelessly as Priest to God Almighty in the order of the Law, O Prophet Zacharias; and so, as you offered incense, an Angel appeared to you saying: “You will beget the Forerunner of Christ, mediator between the Law and inspired Grace.”
Entrance in the Temple of the Mother of God: November 21st
Saint Zacharias, the High Priest of the Temple, received into his arms our Most Holy Mother of God when she was three years old. Her parents, Saint Joachim and Saint Anna, led her into the Temple of the Lord, consecrating her to God as they had promised Him. This is where she lived her childhood, and tended to by the Holy Archangel Gabriel.
Conception of Saint John the Forerunner: September 23rd
Apolytikion: Rejoice, O thou barren one who hadst not borne until now; for lo, in all truth thou hast conceived the lamp of the Sun, and he shall send forth his light over all the Earth, which is afflicted with blindness. Dance, O Zacharias, and cry out with great boldness: The one to be born is the blest Prophet of God Most High.
Kontakion: Great Zacharias now doth rejoice with resplendence; Elizabeth his glorious yoke-mate exulteth; for she hath conceived Divine John the Forerunner worthily, whom the great Archangel had announced with rejoicing, whom, as it is meet, we men revere as a sacred initiate of Grace Divine.
Prophet Zacharias and Saint Elizabeth were married but did not have any children for many years. They Prayed to God to give them a child and with God’s Blessing Archangel Gabriel announced to them they will have a child, and they became the parents of Saint John the Forerunner.
When Our Most Holy Mother of God was pregnant she went with Saint Joseph to visit her cousin Saint Elizabeth, who was also pregnant, and her husband Prophet Zacharias. The two babies in the wombs recognised each other, and thus began the Prophesying of Saint John, before he was born!
Nativity of Saint John the Forerunner: June 24th
Apolytikion: O Prophet and Forerunner of the presence of Christ, we who fervently honour you cannot worthily praise you. For by your revered and glorious birth the barrenness of your mother and the muteness of your father were unbound, and the Incarnation of the Son of God is proclaimed to the world.
Kontakion: She that once was barren doth today bring forth Christ’s Forerunner, John, the culmination and the crown of all the Prophets. For when he, in River Jordan, laid his hand on Him Whom the Prophets preached aforetime, he was revealed as God the Word’s fore-chosen Prophet, His mighty preacher, and His Forerunner in Grace.
Hymn: The Voice of the Word of Grace has come: The preacher of the Light of Light! He is born from the barren womb of Elizabeth. Rejoice, people; he comes, preparing the way of Salvation for us. He leaped in the womb and worshipped his Master: the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, and grants us great Mercy.
Hymn: O all-praised John, and universal Apostle, the good news of Gabriel, and the root from the barren womb, and the most-beautiful adornment of the desert, and true friend of Christ the Bridegroom: entreat Him, that He might have mercy on our Souls.
Hymn: The great Forerunner shines forth today, from fruitless loins, coming forth from Elizabeth, he who is the Prophet greater than all the Prophets. There is none like him, nor will there come another after, for after the light of the lamp that is the Forerunner follows the surpassingly radiant Voice of the Logos, and the Bridegroom of the Bride, the Lord Who prepares a people for Himself, and cleanses them beforehand by the Spirit through the water. [John is] the root of Zacharias, and the beautiful fruit of the desert, the preacher of repentance, the cleansing of offences, he who preaches to those in Hades of the Resurrection from the dead, and who intercedes on behalf of our Souls.
Luke 1: 76-77
And you, child, will be called the Prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of Salvation to His people.
And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him. Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His Holy Prophets, who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His Holy Covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham: To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. And you, child, will be called the Prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of Salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender Mercy of our God, eith which the Dayspring from on High has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Saint John grew up in the Desert because when King Herod was killing the Holy Innocents, all the baby boys in an attempt to kill the new born Baby Jesus, Saint Elizabeth fled to a rocky and desolate place with Saint John in her arms. When Saint Elizabeth saw the soldiers following her she cried out to the mountain: “O Mountain of God, receive a mother with her child!” and the rock opened and hid the mother and child. The soldiers killed Prophet Zacharias in the Temple when he refused to say where his child went, and forty days afterwards Saint Elizabeth reposed. Saint John was then led to the wilderness by an Angel where he grew up protected by God, he was one and a half years old.
Below is an Icon of Christ with his beloved Saint Zacharias and Saint Elizabeth with their son Saint John the Baptist, together with Saint Joachim and Saint Anna, and their daughter Panagia.