Feasts of Saint John the Baptist
Saint John the Baptist, son of Zacharias the priest, became a martyr by the hand of Herod the wicked king on September 12 known and commemorated by the Holy Church. This John the prophet rebuked Herod because of Herodias, the wife of Philip, for he had married her and taken her to be his wife, and John said unto him, “It is not right for thee to take thy brother’s wife.” Herod took Saint John and cast him into prison, and he kept him there because he was afraid of him.
On his birthday, Herod made a feast for the nobles of his kingdom and for the magistrates of the city of Galilee. His brother’s daughter came and stood up among the festal company and she danced and pleased the king, and he swore an oath that he would give her anything which she might ask from him, even if it were as much as the half of his kingdom. She went out to her mother, and she said unto her, “What shall I ask the king to give me?” Her mother said unto her, “Ask him to give thee the head of John the Baptist lying in a bowl.”
When Herod heard this he was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oath and also because of those who were sitting at meat with him, and because he did not wish to be put to shame, he straightway commanded his servants to cut off the head of Saint John, and to give it to the maiden. They cut off the head of John in the prison house and gave it to the daughter of Herodias in a bowl and she gave it to her mother. There was great consternation that day, and their joy was turned to sorrow. when the holy head of Saint John was cut off, it flew up into the air and it cried out, saying, “It is not right for thee to take thy brother’s wife”; and it is said that the head is at the present time in the country of Arabia.
The disciples of the holy man came and took his body and carried it away and laid it in a grave (where it lay) until the days of Saint Athanasius, Archbishop of the city of Alexandria. God commanded him to uncover the body of Saint John, and Saint Athanasius did so and laid it up by him until he could build a church for it.
May his intercession be with us; Amen!
Source: The Ethiopic Syanaxarium, page 5