The Conception of the Honorable, Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John.
Saint Linus, the first Pope of Rome (c. 79)
Venerables Xanthippa and Polyxena (109), disciples of the Apostles, who died in Spain.
Virgin-martyr Irais (Rhais) of Alexandria (308).
“Slovensk” Icon of the Mother of God (1635).
“Hawaiian” Myrrh-streaming Iveron Ikon of the Theotokos (2007).
New Martyr Nicholas Pantopolis at Constantinople (1672) (Greek).
Venerable Adamnan, abbot of Iona, biographer of St. Columba (704) (Celtic & British).
Saint John the New Martyr of Vrachori, formerly a Muslim (+ 1814)
Commemorated on September 23
Archangel’s message to a Prophet was:
Prophet you will beget and more than that.
The Conception of Saint John the Baptist
On this day the mercy, miracles and wisdom of God are celebrated: His mercy toward the devout and righteous parents of St. John, the aged Zacharias and Elizabeth, who all their lives had wished for and begged a child from God; His miracle, that of John’s conception in the aged womb of Elizabeth; His wisdom, in the dispensation of man’s salvation. God had an especially great intention for John: namely, that he be the Prophet and Forerunner of Christ the Lord, the Savior of the world. Through His angels, God announced the births of Isaac to the childless Sarah, Samson to the childless wife of Manoah, and John the Forerunner to the childless Zacharias and Elizabeth. All of these were those for whom He had special intentions, and he foretold their birth through his angels. How could children be born of aged parents? If someone desires to understand this, he should not ask men about it, for men do not know; nor should he study natural law, for this is beyond natural law. Rather, he should turn his gaze upon the power of the Almighty God, Who created the whole world from nothing, and Who needed no parents-old or young-for the creation of the first man, Adam. Instead of being curious, let us give thanks to God, Who often reveals His power, mercy and wisdom to us in ways that are beyond natural law-in which we would be imprisoned without these special miracles of God, and would fall into despair and forgetfulness of God.
Prologue of Ochrid : Lives of Saints by St Nikolai Velimirovich
Apolytikion of Conception of the Forerunner
Rejoice, O thou barren one who hadst not borne until now; for lo, in all truth thou hast conceived the lamp of the Sun, and he shall send forth his light over all the earth, which is afflicted with blindness. Dance, O Zacharias, and cry out with great boldness: The one to be born is the blest Prophet of God Most High.
The Gospel According to Luke 1:5-25
At that time, in the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
And Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and they wondered at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she hid herself, saying, “Thus the Lord has done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.”
from the Canons of the Saint Forerunner.
A composition of John of Damascus.
Ode 6. As I watch the sea of life.
My mind is full of doubt and I do not believe your words, the priest said to the Archangel; for I asked salvation for the people, not fruit from my loins.
The Fashioner of nature, King of the Angels, replied the minister, has been well-pleased for you to beget the Messenger of his coming; do not disbelieve my words, my friend.
Your form is of fire, your appearance terrifying and your word wondrous, said Zachary to the minister; but yet I do not believe you as you speak strange words beyond nature.
The lamp, recognizing the Sun hidden in the cloud of his mother’s womb, himself in the sombre dwelling of the womb, rejoicing worshipped him and leapt for joy.
Ode 7. The Angel made the furnace like dew.
As you have not believed my words receive dumbness for all to see; and when you see the voice of the Word being brought to birth, receive your voice again, crying out: Blessed are you, the God of Israel.
United to the moon, Elizabeth, Zachary, shining brightly like the sun, begot the resplendent lamp of the light which shines for us who are dreadfully held fast in the darkness of the passions.
Using his leapings as words, Christ’s great Prophet worshipped you in the Virgin’s womb, carried himself in Elizabeth’s womb, O Jesu, God of our Fathers.
The moon, Elizabeth, carrying within her a divine star, the Forerunner, worshipped Mary, the cloud of light, who bore the Sun, Christ, incarnate of you to save us.
By the intercessions of Your Saints, O God, have mercy on us. Amen.