St. John the Baptist is the only Saint the Catholic Liturgy celebrates in two solemnities: his birth on June 24, and his martyrdom, on August 29.
Newsdesk (June 24/2021 15:28, Gaudium Press) – Today, June 24, the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, one of the prophets who predicted the coming of the Messiah and prepared God’s people to receive him. He was also the cousin of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom he baptized.
St. John the Baptist is the only saint whom the Catholic Liturgy celebrates on two solemnities: his birth, on June 24, and that of his martyrdom, on August 29. His feast day originated in the Middle Ages, alongside popular saints like Saint Anthony, Saint Peter and Saint John.
The birth of John the Baptist
St. Luke tells us that John the “Baptist,” the “Precursor,” was born in a town in the kingdom of Judah, near Hebron, in the mountains, south of Jerusalem. He was a descendant of the holy patriarch Abraham, initiator of the history of the people of Israel.
His father was the priest St. Zacharias (of the tribe of Aaron), and his mother was St. Elizabeth (of the lineage of David), cousin of the Virgin Mary, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. St. Luke also points out the supernatural circumstances that preceded the birth of John the Baptist. Elizabeth, barren and already old, saw her desire for a child come true when the archangel Gabriel announced to Zacharias, her husband, that she would give birth to a son. The child was to be named John and would be the forerunner of the Savior.
John the Baptist, according to Saints and Popes
01 – “John is a forerunner and his voice is a forerunner of the Word of God, a voice that encourages and predisposes to salvation, a voice that exhorts us to seek the inheritance of heaven.” (St. Clement of Alexandria)
02 – “Saint John the Baptist persevered in holiness because he kept himself humble in his heart.” (St. Gregory)
03 – “John’s humility constitutes his most significant merit; he could deceive men, pass for Christ, be seen as Christ, so great were his grace and virtue, and yet openly declare: ‘I am not Christ. – Are you Elijah? […] – I am not Elijah” (Jn 1:20-21).” (St. Augustine)
04 – “With the exception of the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist is the only saint to whom the liturgy celebrates his birth, and it does so because he is intimately linked to the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God.” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI)
05 – “John the Baptist humbly chose the same path that Jesus himself would later follow.” (Pope Francis)
06 – “From his mother’s womb, in fact, John is the forerunner of Jesus: his prodigious conception was announced by the Angel to Mary, as a sign that ‘nothing is impossible for God'” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI)
07 – “John the Baptist was the voice, a voice that bears witness to the Word, indicates the Word, the Word of God, the Word. He was the preacher of penance who baptized, the Baptist.” (Pope Francis)
Prayer to St. John the Baptist
O Glorious Saint John the Baptist, prince of the prophets, the forerunner of the divine Redeemer, firstborn of the grace of Jesus and the intercession of his most holy Mother! You, who were great before the Lord, by the extraordinary gifts of grace you were marvellously enriched from your Mother’s womb, and by your admirable virtues, obtain for me from Jesus, the grace to love and serve him with extreme affection and dedication until death.
Also obtain for me, my excellent protector, singular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who for your love went with haste to the house of your Mother St. Elizabeth, to be filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
If you obtain these two graces for me, as I hope very much from your great goodness and mighty intercession, I am sure that, loving Jesus and Mary to death, I will save my soul and in heaven, with you and all the Angels and Saints I will love and praise Jesus and Mary among eternal joy and delights. Amen. (EPC)