Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


The wings and heads of St. John the Baptist

August 30th, 2011, Promulgated by Bernie

Yesterday we celebrated the memorial of the Beheading of John the Baptist.

From The New Theological Movement

The beheading of St. John the Baptist, whom Herod ordered beheaded about the time of the Feast of the Pasch; but his memory is solemnly kept on this day, August 29, on which his venerated head was found for a second time. It was afterwards translated to Rome and is preserved in the church of St. Silvester in Capite and honoured by the people with great devotion. (from The Roman Martyrology)

While there are several churches which claim to posses the head of St. John the Baptist, we know (of course) that only at most one of these relics could be the true head of the Forerunner. However, on account of the manner of his martyrdom, the Baptist is regularly depicted in iconography with two heads: One firmly attached to his body, and another upon a plate (or in a chalice) either in his hands or …

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7 Responses to “The wings and heads of St. John the Baptist”

  1. avatar Jim says:

    Jim M. here: There are very few venues to actually see the story of the beheading of St. John the Baptist in film. One very good one is the 1961 movie: “King of Kings”….it shows John in his ministry, his dealing with Herod and Herodius, his imprisonment, and his eventual beheading. It’s handled very well, and also shows Our Lord praying with him in prison. I believe it’s on DVD.

  2. avatar JohnK says:

    This is a big feast in the Eastern Churches. In fact for Greek Catholics, it is a fasting day, and dark vestments are worn for all services. And some of the customs that Slavic Greek Catholics have formed around it are, besides fasting, that day nothing in the shape of a head is eaten (ie. cabbage, apple, etc) and nothing is eaten on plates or platters, because of his head being presented to Herodias on one.

  3. avatar christian says:

    Ben: Thank you for this wonderful post. Thank you for displaying an icon of St. John the Baptist.
    Jim M.: Thank you for the info on that movie-I am going to try to locate it to watch.
    JohnK.: Thank you for that info on how Eastern Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist.

    I regret that there is not more art work, icons, or statues depicting John the Baptist in our churches. If I am not mistaken, I think there is a statue of John the Baptist in St. Stanislaus Church on Hudson Avenue in Rochester, New York.

    (The Feast Day of John the Baptist is June 24th). I have always had a great reverence for St. John the Baptist. He preached tirelessly to prepare the way for the Kingdom of God through repentance, and baptized followers in the Jordan River. He foretold the coming of the Messiah.

    John, who was a relative of Jesus, who had baptized Jesus, recognized him as the Messiah. He encouraged his followers to leave him and follow Jesus. John considered Jesus to be the bridegroom and himself to be the best man. In Jewish custom, the role of the best man is to bring the bride to the bridegroom and then make a considerate exit.

    John is an excellent example of zeal for our Lord. John is an excellent example of devotion and faithfulness to the end which led to martyrdom. John is also an excellent example of humility. How easy is it for people to refer to someone as better, more suitable, more experienced, a better choice, the “real deal” over our self, and even tell our friends and followers to leave us and go with that someone? Yet John does that out of concern for the greater good because he recognizes Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

    St. John the Baptist is the patron saint of spiritual joy. John the Baptist lept for joy in his mother’s womb at Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, when Jesus was in Mary’s womb. John the Baptist also says that he rejoices to hear his bridegroom’s voice. St. John the Baptist is present in the readings on Gaudete (Rejoice!) Sunday.

  4. avatar christian says:

    I think it is very fitting to read the Canticle of Zechariah for all of the feast days of St. John the Baptist.


    Blessed be the Lord,
    The God of Israel;
    He has come to His people and set them free.

    He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour,
    Born of the house of His servant David.

    Through His holy prophets He promised of old
    That He would save us from our enemies,
    From the hands of all who hate us.

    He promised to show mercy to our fathers
    And to remember His holy Covenant.

    This was the oath He swore to our father Abraham:
    To set us free from the hands of our enemies,
    Free to worship Him without fear,
    Holy and righteous in His sight
    All the days of our life.

    You, My child shall be called
    The prophet of the Most High,
    For you will go before the Lord to prepare His way,
    To give his people knowledge of salvation
    By the forgiveness of their sins.

    In the tender compassion of our Lord
    The dawn from on high shall break upon us,
    to shine on those who dwell in darkness
    And the shadow of death,
    And to guide our feet into the way of peace.

    Glory to the Father,
    and to the Son,
    and to the Holy Spirit.
    As it was in the beginning.
    is now, and will be forever.


  5. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Ben: Thank you for this wonderful post. Thank you for displaying an icon of St. John the Baptist.

    I’d love to take credit for it, but this post was by Bernie.

  6. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    John the Baptist was born without original sin.

  7. avatar christian says:

    Thank you Bernie for for this wonderful post. Thank you for displaying an icon of St. John the Baptist.

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