Saint John the Baptist and Forerunner

“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.”

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Synaxis: January 7th

Akathist Hymn

Apolytikion: The memory of the just is celebrated with hymns of praise, but the Lord’s testimony is sufficient for thee, O Forerunner; for thou hast proved to be truly even more Venerable than the Prophets, since thou was granted to Baptize in the running waters Him Whom they proclaimed. Wherefore, having contested for the truth, thou didst rejoice to announce the good tidings even to those in Hades: that God hath appeared in the flesh, taking away the sin of the world and granting us great Mercy.

Kontakion: The Jordan accepted Your presence in the flesh and reversed its course in fear. John, fulfilling the Spiritual ministry, fell back in awe. The ranks of Angels, seeing You in the flesh, Baptized in the River, were amazed, and all who were in darkness were filled with light, praising You Who appeared and enlightened all.

Megalynarion: With your hand you Baptised, O Baptiser, leading Israel through the sea, of all the Prophets you showed to be the highest, wherefore we praise your Divine Grace.

Doxastikon: O Forerunner and incarnate Lamp of the Saviour, the offspring of a barren woman, and friend of Him Who was born of a Virgin, who leaped for joy to worship Him as a babe in the womb, and who Baptized Him in the waters of the Jordan, entreat Him, we pray you, O Prophet, that we might escape from the coming storms of this life.

Poem about Saint John, by Fr Pavlos Papadopoulos: Behind the Prophet, see the Ascetic. Behind the Baptist, see the Virgin. Behind the Great, see the Humble. Behind the Saint, see John. Behind every Saint of the Church, there is a whole life of struggles, efforts, tears. There is hidden a life of Prayer and Asceticism, simplicity and obscurity. It is not that which we know of Saint John the Baptist and the Forerunner of Our Lord. It is that which we do not know about him that contributes to making him Great before men and Saints. It is all that Our Triune God knows of him. This fascinates me about Saint John… that he is an incredible wild flower that adorns the world, and that the world does not know…

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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 they became the Parents of Saint John the Forerunner.

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Conception: 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.

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The Visitation of the Most Holy Mother of God and Saint Elizabeth: March 30th

When Our Most Blessed Lady 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!

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This beautiful Icon is of the Mother of God with her Son Our Lord Jesus Christ. To her right is Saint Elizabeth with Saint John the Baptist, and to her left is Saint Salome with Saint John the Beloved. These Holy Women were all first cousins because their mothers, Saint Anna, Sobea and Maria, were all sisters and daughters to the High Priest Matthas and his wife Maria.


Nativity: June 24th

Apolytikion: O Prophet and Forerunner of the presence of Christ, we who fervently honor 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 offenses, he who preaches to those in Hades of the Resurrection from the dead, and who intercedes on behalf of our Souls.

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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.


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, a rock opened up to conceal Saint Elizabeth and her son. 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.

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Saint John’s love for Christ led him to preach Repentance and to Baptise his disciples, to prepare the way of the Lord, and to Baptise Christ Himself!

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Beheading: August 29th

Apolytikion: The memory of the just is celebrated with hymns of praise, but the Lord’s testimony is sufficient for thee, O Forerunner; for thou hast proved to be truly even more Venerable than the Prophets, since thou was granted to Baptize in the running waters Him Whom they proclaimed. Wherefore, having contested for the truth, thou didst rejoice to announce the good tidings even to those in Hades: that God hath appeared in the flesh, taking away the sin of the world and granting us great Mercy.

Kontakion: The Glorious Beheading of the Forerunner was a certain Divine dispensation, that the coming of the Saviour might also be preached to those in Hades. Let Herodias lament, then, that she demanded a wicked murder; for she loved not the Law of God, nor eternal life, but one false and fleeting.

Hymn: O Forerunner of the Saviour, you censured the king that he might not work lawlessness, through the games of a lawless woman, but Herod fell upon you and cut off your head. Because of this, your name is praised from the rising of the sun until its setting. As one having boldness before the Lord, entreat ceaselessly that our Souls be saved.

Hymn: John, who outran Your Birth and Your Passion, came through a sword to the lowest parts of the Earth as Prophet and Messenger of Your entrance also there, crying as voice of the Word, you dead, highly exalt the Giver of life, you blind, the Giver of light, you prisoners, the Deliverer Christ.

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The Beheading of Saint John enabled him to be the Forerunner of Christ in Hades too, preparing all for the coming of Christ.


1st & 2nd Finding of his Venerable Head: February 24th

Apolytikion: The Forerunner’s Sacred head, having dawned forth from the Earth, doth send incorruption’s rays unto the faithful, whereby they find healings of their ills. From on high he gathereth the choirs of the Angels and on Earth he summoneth the whole race of mankind, that they with one voice might send up Glory to Christ our God.

Kontakion: Since we have obtained thy head as a most Sacred rose from out of the Earth, O Forerunner of Grace Divine, we receive sure healing in every hour, O Prophet of God the Lord; for again, now as formerly, thou preachest repentance unto all the world.

3rd Finding of his Venerable Head: May 25th

Apolytikion: Christ God hath revealed to us thy truly Venerable head as a Divine treasure that had been concealed in the Earth, O Prophet and Forerunner. Wherefore, as we gather on the Feast of its finding, with our hymns inspired of God, we praise Christ the Saviour, Who by thy mighty Prayers saveth us from every kind of harm.

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