Religious Figure, Roman Catholic Saint. Born the son of Zachariah, a Temple priest, and his wife Elizabeth, who was a cousin or aunt of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Tradition has it he was born very late in his parents' lives, after it had been accepted that theirs would be a barren union. He was apparently born between six and twelve months before Jesus. He was to become known as ‘the Precursor' whose role it would be to announce the coming of Jesus. Traditionally, John began his ministry by proclaiming the coming of the Messiah. He gathered a large following, whom he then baptized them in the River Jordan. Traditionally, one of those who came to him for baptism was Jesus. There is no indication, however, that John's ministry ended with that event. He continued to have followers independent to those of Jesus. He remained vocal, even denouncing Herod Antipas who had taken his brother's wife, Herodias, and married her, contrary to the Mosaic Law. He was imprisoned in the Machaerus fortress, some nine miles east of the Dead Sea for speaking out. Tradition has it that when Herod's niece greatly pleased him with her dancing at his birthday feast, he promised she could have from him whatever she chose. She demanded the head of John on a plate. Herod had the Baptist summarily executed. John was believed to have been buried at Samaria where, in the 4th century, the tomb was desecrated. Shi'a Muslim tradition maintains that his head is interred in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. Centuries later, it was said that the Knights Templar took possession of the head. In iconic art, he is represented both as prophet and baptizer. Considered by many to have been the first monk by his solitary and austere life, he was long venerated by monastic orders. In the Catholic Church, his feast day is June 24th.
Bio by: Iola