By Bishop Gregory of Mesaoria
The Beheading (Decollation) of the Most Holy Prophet John the Baptist and Forerunner is the event honored today, August 29, by our Church.
The Forerunner of Christ’s presence, Saint John, lived, according to Mark the Evangelist, in the desert of Judea, proclaiming the coming of the Messiah and calling the people to repentance.
He did not hesitate to criticize the Pharisees, both for their hypocrisy and for moral wrongdoings, as well as for King Herod Antipas himself, who had an illicit relationship with Herodias, the wife of the brother, Herod Philip I.
This particular attitude of John the Baptist led first to his imprisonment and eventually to his beheading, as Salome, daughter of Herodias, had demanded: during a symposium for the king’s birthday, her dancing pleased Herod so much that he promised to give her anything she desired, up to half of his kingdom.
Saint John’s Honorable Head, offered to Salome on a plate, was buried in prison by the soldiers.
It should be noted that today our Church prompts the faithful to strict fasting because of the Martyrdom of John the Baptist.
Source: Church of Cyprus