St. John the Baptist

     St. John the Baptist is known both as a prophet and as the person who Baptised Christ. However, he was notable from birth. His father Zacharias, a priest, and his mother Elizabeth, a relative of the Virgin Mary, were elderly, but still praying for a son, which was granted to them by the Lord and announced to them by the Angel Gabriel. As an adult, John withdrew to the desert to contemplate and pray, and, in 27 A.D., began preaching and baptising as a sign of spiritual regeneration. Jesus came to him to be baptised and it was during this ceremony that the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ. John’s call for repentance angered Herod Antippas, who imprisoned him. John was beheaded at the request of Herod’s stepdaughter Salome.

Apolytikion in the Second Tone
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 in the Plagal of the Second Tone
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.

Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, http://www.goarch.org/chapel/saints_view?contentid=375.