The Passion of St. John the Baptist

The only follower of Christ to be killed before Jesus and even before the Church began, John the Baptist died because he proclaimed the truth and accused even the powerful of their sins.

John was a relative of Jesus who prepared the way for Him, even leaping while still in the womb when his mother Elizabeth heard the voice of the newly pregnant Virgin Mary at the Visitation.

John grew up in the wilderness as a hermit. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he was the last prophet to announce the coming of the Messiah, preaching that people should repent from their sins and be baptized.

He courageously denounced Herod Antipas’ unlawful marriage to his brother’s wife Herodias and for this he was imprisoned in Herod’s palace fortress.

In spite of the criticism, Herod was impressed with John and liked to listen to him. He knew that he was a righteous and holy man. But Herodias wanted him dead.

After enchanting Herod with a dance, Herodias’ daughter Salome was told that she could have anything that she wished from Herod. Her mother told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist.

Reluctantly, Herod fulfilled his oath to the girl and had John executed in prison. The prophet’s head was presented to her on a silver platter. She gave the head to her mother and John’s body was buried by his disciples.

Noting similarities between the martyrdom of John and the Passion and death of Jesus, the Church commemorates the Passion of St. John the Baptist each year on August 29.

Courage in standing up for the truth:

Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network – USA

John preached the truth without fear:

Fr. Burke Masters

The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Mark 6: 25-29

John drew courage from his relationship with God:

Nativity Parish Burke

Dying for the right reasons:

Sacred Story Institute

John the Baptist had true peace and true security:

Heralds of the Gospel

As his last act the Baptist witnessed with his blood to faithfulness to God’s commandments, without giving in or withdrawing, carrying out his mission to the very end. In the 9th century the Venerable Bede says in one of his Homilies: “St John gave his life for [Christ]. He was not ordered to deny Jesus Christ, but was ordered to keep silent about the truth”. And he did not keep silent about the truth and thus died for Christ who is the Truth. Precisely for love of the truth he did not stoop to compromises and did not fear to address strong words to anyone who had strayed from God’s path.

Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 29 August 2012

A dramatic scene captured in art:

The National Gallery

A prized but bloody trophy:

Warner D’Souza

St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way. “Prophet of the Most High”, John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last. He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom”, Whom he points out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. Going before Jesus “in the spirit and power of Elijah”, John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom

Catechism of the Catholic Church 523

John’s death highlights the Paschal Mystery:

Catholic Faith Network

A cautionary tale:

Heart to Heart, A Catholic Media Ministry

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

Discovering liturgical worship:

The Coming Home Network International

Share this page with friends and family to start a conversation about your faith.

Don’t miss a post. Learn more about the Catholic Church and strengthen your Catholic faith.

Find more Fiercely Catholic video issues here.

Subscribe here.

Book a Fiercely Catholic program at your next conference, retreat, or other Catholic event.