7 January 2016

The Greek Orthodox Church and Her Saints: 7 January; The Synax of Saint John The Baptist/John The Forerunner


Saint John the Baptist  Leonardo Da Vinci
Saint John the Baptist

Leonardo da Vinci



 Saint John the Baptist, a Jewish travelling preacher, is a dominant religious figure in Christianity, Islam, Baha’i (Persian Monotheism) and Mandaeism (Gnostic religion), and the last prophet of The Old Testament.

 He is known as a prophet in all the above religions, and as a Saint in Christianity.


In The New Testament, Saint John the Baptist prophesies the coming of The Messiah, a person greater than himself, and this person was Jesus.




Saint John the Baptist
Saint John the Baptist

Details from Deesis mosaic, Hagia Sophia,Istanbul, Turkey.

  

In The Greek Orthodox Church, Saint John the Baptist is also called, Saint John the Forerunner (Ioannis O Prodromos); the one who prepared the way for the coming of Jesus.

Saint John the Baptist’s main Feast Day, celebrated by The Greek Orthodox Church, is “The Synaxis of Saint John the Forerunner”, on the seventh of January.


Other Feast Days of Saint John the Forerunner, celebrated in The Greek Orthodox Church are:

       February twenty fourth. The first and second finding of the head of John the Forerunner.

        May twenty fifth. The third finding of the head of John the Forerunner.

 June twenty fourth

         August twenty ninth. The beheading of John the Forerunner

        September 23. Conception of St John the Forerunner and the Commemoration of Saints Zechariah and Elizabeth.


Saint John the Baptist’s parents, Zachariah, a Jewish priest, and Elizabeth, cousin to The Virgin Mary, today known as Saint Elizabeth, had no children, and were of an age where it was unlikely that they ever would.




Zachariah & Elizabeth
Zachariah & Elizabeth

Parents of Saint John the Baptist




One day, whilst in the Temple, Zachariah was visited by the angel Gabriel, who told him that his wife would give birth to a son, and they were to name that son, John.




Jacapo Carucci, known as Jacapo da  Pontormo
Jacapo Carucci, known as Jacapo da  Pontormo

Zachariah writing "I name this child John"




Born in Judea, six months before Jesus, Saint John the Baptist, grew up to realize he had been chosen by God, to prepare the people for the coming of The Messiah, by turning them away from sin and baptizing them.

John could be seen roaming the wilderness of the desert, dressed in camel’s hair clothing, eating locust and wild honey, preaching his message, and, owing to this, he is sometimes called “The Angel of the Desert” and is often depicted, on icons, as having wings.





Saint John  El Greco
Saint John

El Greco




As John’s fame grew, Jesus heard about this man, who had become a phenomenon, sought him out and became one of his followers.





"The Preaching of St. John the Baptist"  Pieter Bruegl the Elder
"The Preaching of St. John the Baptist"

Pieter Bruegl the Elder



Saint John the Baptist baptized Jesus, along with many others, in the River Jordan.

John’s downfall, came when Herod had him thrown into prison for public ally accusing him of divorcing his wife, Phasaelis, and unlawfully marrying his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias.


When, at Herod’s Birthday celebration, Salome, Herodias’s daughter, danced for Herod, he was so delighted, he exclaimed that he would reward her with anything her heart desired.




"Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist"  Andrea Solario
"Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist"
Andrea Solario



After discussing Herods's  offer with her mother, Salome requested from Herod, the head of Saint John the Baptist.

Herod was hesitant to do Salome’s bidding, but, he was a man of his word, and so Saint John the Baptist lost his head.





"The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist"  Puvis de Chavannes
"The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist"

Puvis de Chavannes



According to The Greek Orthodox Church, after his death, Saint John the Baptist went to Hades (Ancient Greek underworld) where he continued to preach the coming of The Messiah, so being the Forerunner of Jesus Christ, in both life and death.




Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church . Old Jerusalem
Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church
.
Old Jerusalem




John the Baptist is said to have been be buried at Sebaste in Samaria, but after the place was desecrated, around 362, his relics were taken to Jerusalem, and later, to Alexandria, in Egypt.





Nabi Yaha Moaque Sebastia  Traditional burial place of Saint John the Baptist.
Nabi Yaha Moaque Sebastia

Traditional burial place of Saint John the Baptist.




The head of John the Baptist is said to have either been buried in the fortress of Machaerus (Jordan) or, at Herod’s palace in Jerusalem





Relic; Saint John the Baptist's Head  Amiens Cathedral, France.
Relic; Saint John the Baptist's Head

Amiens Cathedral, France.




Other relics, found during the reign of Constantine, are said to have been taken to Emesa, in Western Syria, and hidden, where they were allegedly found in 453.





Skull of Saint John the Baptist  Munich
Skull of Saint John the Baptist

Munich




If claims are to be believed, John the Baptist was a man of many heads and a multitude of hands!


Other locations, where the head of the Baptist, is to be found are:

The Great Mosque of Damascus

Rome. San Sivestro in Capite

Munich, Residenz Munich, former Royal Palace of Bavaria.Antioch, Uncertain where, exactly.

Amien Cathedral, France (Said to be taken there by The Knights Templar).

The Parish Church of Tenterden, Kent



 
Head of Saint John the Baptist.  Rome
Head of Saint John the Baptist.

Rome




 
Head of Saint John the Baptist.  Topkapi Palace.Istanbul.Turkey
Head of Saint John the Baptist.

Topkapi Palace.Istanbul.Turkey





The right hand of John the Baptist, the hand with which he baptized Jesus Christ, can be found in the following places:


Serbian Orthodox MonasteryMontenegro.

Topkapi PalaceIstanbulTurkey.

Mount Athos (The Holy MountainGreece.


The left hand of John the Baptist can be found in:


        Armenian Apostolic Church of Saint JohnWest Bengal.

       Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great, Egypt.






Right Hand of Saint John the Baptist  Cetinje Monastery. Montenegro.
Right Hand of Saint John the Baptist

Cetinje Monastery. Montenegro.






  Bone fragment of Saint John the Baptist's hand, encased in silver.  Photo; John Canning
Bone fragment of Saint John the Baptist's hand, encased in silver.

Photo; John Canning







Right hand of Saint John the Baptist.  Topkapi Palace. Istanbul. Turkey.
Right hand of Saint John the Baptist.

Topkapi Palace. Istanbul. Turkey.





In 2010, bones were unearthed in the ruins of the Bulgarian Church of Saint John, on the Black Sea island of Saint Ivan, which, when the DNA was tested two years later, proved to be the bones of a Middle Eastern man of the first century AD.





Relics of Saint John the Baptist  Found on The Black Sea island of Saint Ivan.
Relics of Saint John the Baptist

Found on The Black Sea island of Saint Ivan.




These relics; a knuckle,  a tooth, part of a skull, a rib and a forearm bone, are now kept in Saints Cyril and Methodius Cathedral, Sozopol, Bulgaria.



The most surprising claim of all, one that I have never heard of, is that the Head of John the Baptist is to be found in my neck of the woods, WestYorkshire!

The head of John the Baptist appears on the official coat of arms of Halifax.




The coat of Arms of Halifax, West Yorkshire, England.  Depicting the head of John the Baptist.
The coat of Arms of Halifax, West Yorkshire, England.

Depicting the head of John the Baptist.




A legend, recorded in the late sixteenth century, in William Camden’s “Britannia”, states that the name Halifax derives from; “Halig”, holy, and “Fax”, face.

William Camden states that the first religious settlers, brought with them, the face or head of John the Baptist.

Apparently, not only in life did John the Baptist spread himself around, but in death also!



Of course, the "Yiannis" (Greek version of the name John) all over the world, celebrate their Name Day on seventh of January.

Yiannis is such a popular name in Greece that there is a saying:

"There's not a house in Greece that doesn't have a Yiannis"



My Yiannis!  My Son John  Happy Name Day!
My Yiannis!

My Son John

Happy Name Day!


I'll take this opportunity, to wish my Yiannis, my son John,

 "Happy Name Day"


 More Saints of The Greek Orthodox Church.




4 comments:

  1. Very interesting information and, as always, great photos to illustrate the blog
    Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Hilary, I do learn lots of interesting stuff myself, while writing posts, the Halifax bit in this one, has amazed me!
      Susan.x

      Delete
  2. It was fascinating reading this, I have learnt so much. Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sarah, there's a Saints Day, nearly every day in Greece; always something going on, never a dull moment!
      Susan.x

      Delete

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