Saturday, June 24, 2017

Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

"Ipsum oportet crescere, me autem minui."  "He must increase, I must decrease." (John 3:30)

This statement embodies both St. John the Baptist and his sublime role in the salvation of mankind.  St. John was the forerunner, the "Vox clamantis in deserto : Parate viam Domini, rectas facite semitas ejus," "A voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight his paths." (Mark 1:3) about whom our divine Lord said, " Amen I say to you, there has not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is the lesser in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matthew 11:11)

File:TitianStJohn.jpg
St. John the Baptist by Titian, 1542AD.

St. John the Baptist is, as it were, the last character of the Old Testament, the final prophet, who, having "made straight the paths of the Lord" stepped aside in humility before his cousin, and Saviour.  From St. John we learn not only austerity and devotion to God, but humility and obedience.  His resolve in teaching the truth is, ultimately, a contributing factor to his execution by Herod.

For more on St. John the Baptist, be sure to check out:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. John the Baptist

Patron Saints Index: St. John the Baptist

This Feast of St. John is associated with bonfires, owing to its proximity to the Summer Solstice.  Go ahead, have a St. John's fire!  Here is the blessing of fire traditional for this time:

"Lord God, almighty Father, the light that never fails and the source of all light, sanctify + this new fire, and grant that after the darkness of this life we may come unsullied to you who are light eternal; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen."

It is interesting to note that this feast is associated with the origin of musical notes:
"The Benedictine monk Guido d’Arezzo (c. 990-1050) introduced the now familiar syllables ut re mi fa sol la for the tones of the hexachord c to a… or, more modally, the tonic, supertonic, mediant, etc. of a major scale. The Guidonian syllables derive from the hymn for the feast of St. John the Baptist:
UT queant laxis
REsonare fibris
MIra gestorum
FAmuli tuorum,
SOLve polluti
LAbii reatum,
Sancte Ioannes (SI)."
[Cf., http://wdtprs.com/blog/2015/06/23-june-vigil-of-st-john-bonfires-and-witch-burnings-solstices-and-snails/]

For a list of other details and customs associated with the feast, you might note:
Fisheaters: St. John's Day

I would also like to recall a few places and Churches associated with St. John the Baptist:

In Italy, the first city is that of Florence, whose patron Saint is the great precursor of Our Lord, St. John the Baptist.  Buona festa, Firenze!


The Duomo of Florence, Tuscany.

The Basilica in Italy to which I refer is that of St. John Lateran in Rome, the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome.  This Cathedral-Basilica, whose feast of 9 November, was originally dedicated to Our Divine Savior, but was also consecrated to both St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.  This link allows you to virtually visit the Pope's Cathedral: Archbasilica of St. John Lateran

File:Facade San Giovanni in Laterano 2006-09-07.jpg
The facade of St. John Lateran, in Rome, by Alessandro Galilei, 1735AD.

In North America, the Cathedral of the City of Savannah, Georgia, is named for St. John the Baptist:
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

To conclude, we turn then to St. John's, the port town on the island of Newfoundland that was named for St. John the Baptist, and its cathedral is a basilica named for the very same.  St. John's is, indeed, a delightful situated city, as the following picture attests:

File:St. John's, NFLD harbour.jpg
A view of the harbor of St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.
["St. John's, NFLD harbour". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]


Here is a link to the Cathedral-Basilica of St. John the Baptist, in St. John's:
Basilica-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist


Finally, I leave you with a great little video which artistically features the sights and scenes of modern St. John's, Newfoundland, a city with a 500 year history (you can see the Basilica-Cathedral on the hillside at 0:52 into this video):




Live well!

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