Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist August 29

The Church, having celebrated the earthly birthday of St. John the Baptist on June 24, honors the anniversary of his martyrdom on August 29. Besides our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist is the only one whose birth and death are celebrated in the liturgy of the Church.

Through his birth, preaching and baptizing, John bore witness to the coming birth, preaching and baptism of Christ, and by his suffering he revealed that Christ also would suffer.

As St. Venerable Bede wrote: “He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men. He was locked away in the darkness of prison, though he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be called a bright and shining lamp by that Light itself, which is Christ.

“To endure temporal agonies for the sake of the truth was not a heavy burden for such men as John; rather it was easily borne and even desirable, for he knew eternal joy would be his reward.

“Since death was ever near at hand, such men considered it a blessing to embrace it and thus gain the reward of eternal life by acknowledging Christ’s name. Hence the apostle Paul rightly says: “You have been granted the privilege not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for his sake.” He tells us why it is Christ’s gift that his chosen ones should suffer for him: ‘The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.’”