John the Baptist, was a cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary. His message was one of repentance and preparation for the coming of the Messiah and His Kingdom.
Among his disciples were the Apostles St. Peter and St. Andrew. John baptized Jesus and recognised Him as the Messiah when he saw the Spirit come down on Him. His death was brought about by the hatred of Herodias and the weakness of Herod.
Following the Baptism of the Lord, Saint John the Baptist was locked up in prison by Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch (ruler of one fourth of the Holy Land) and governor of Galilee.
When Salome, her daughter, had greatly pleased Herod with her dancing, he promised her anything she wanted. She demanded John’s head on a dish.
The executioner Machaeus beheaded John and presented his head to Salome, who passed it on to her mother.
John the Baptist was believed to be buried in Samaria where he was honoured in the 4th century, but the tomb was desecrated by Julian the Apostate.
The death of the Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist is remembered on 29th August, and the Greek Orthodox Church keeps a strict fast on this day.