Although Herod was appalled by the request, he would not break his word and reluctantly agreed to have John executed in the prison. He was beheaded and his head was presented on a platter to Herodias.

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John the Baptist is one of the most famous saints in the New Testament. He was famous in his own day, even before he became the herald of Christ.

The Memorial of the Passion of St. John the Baptist is August. 29th.

John was related to Jesus through their mothers, Elizabeth and Mary.  Most likely, it was a blood relationship, but neither a particularly close or distant one.

Elizabeth, being elderly, may have been an aunt, great-aunt, or one of the many types of “cousin.” The precise relationship cannot be determined.

This means that Jesus and John were cousins.

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John’s lifestyle was an austere one. He was an ascetic living in the wilderness, clothed in camel hair and subsisting on locusts and wild honey

The central theme of his ministry was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near”. He was called “The Baptist” because his practice was to baptise those who responded to the message he proclaimed and sincerely repented of their sins.

He was no crowd pleaser. He willingly confronted the hypocrisy of the religious establishment.  He did not hesitate to expose the immorality of Herod and chose to die a martyr’s death rather than compromise his convictions.

Herod, who was Tetrarch of Galilee under the Roman Empire, had imprisoned John the Baptist because he reproved Herod for divorcing his wife (Phasaelis, daughter of King Aretas of Nabataea) and unlawfully taking Herodias,  the wife of his brother, Herod Philip.

On Herod’s birthday, Herodias’ daughter, Salome, danced before the king and his guests. Her dancing pleased Herod so much that in his drunkenness he promised to give her anything she desired, up to half of his kingdom. When Salome asked her mother what she should request, she was told to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter; in revenge for his condemnation of her marriage to Herod.

Although Herod was appalled by the request, he would not break his word and reluctantly agreed to have John executed in the prison. He was beheaded and his head was presented on a platter to Herodias.

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The most famous image of the beheading of St John is by Caravaggio which is displayed in St John’s Co Cathedral, Valletta, Malta.

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