February 24

From the Prologue

The great and glorious Baptist John was beheaded according to the wish and instigation of the wicked Herodias, the wife of Herod. When John was beheaded, Herodias ordered that his head not be buried with his body for she feared that this awesome prophet, somehow, would resurrect. Therefore, she took his head and buried it deep in the ground in a secluded and dishonorable place. Her maidservant was Johanna, the wife of Chuza a courtier of Herod. The good and devout Johanna could not tolerate that the head of the Man of God remain in this dishonorable place. Secretly she unearthed it, removed it to Jerusalem and buried it on the Mount of Olives. Not knowing of this, King Herod, when he learned of Jesus and how He worked great miracles, became frightened and said: "This is John whom I beheaded; he has been raised from the dead" (St. Mark 16:16). After a considerable period of time, an eminent landowner believed in Christ, left his position and the vanity of the world and became a monk, taking the name, Innocent. As a monk, he took up abode on the Mount of Olives exactly in the place where the head of the Baptist was buried. Wanting to build himself a cell for himself, he dug deep and discovered an earthen vessel and in it a head, which was mysteriously revealed to him, to be the head of the Baptizer. He reverenced it and reburied it in the same spot. Later, according to God's Providence, this miracle-working relic [The head of St. John] traveled from place to place, sunk into the darkness of forgetfulness and again was rediscovered. Finally, during the reign of the pious Empress Theodora, the mother of Michael and the wife of Theophilus and at the time of Patriarch Ignatius it was translated to Constantinople. Many miraculous healings occurred from the relic of the Forerunner [Precursor]. It is important and interesting to note that while he was still alive, "John did no miracles" (St. John 10:41), however, his relics have been endowed with miraculous power.

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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas