The Orthodox Church has the custom to commemorate after the great feasts of the Lord the saints and prophets who contributed to each sacred event. On the feast day of the Synaxis of John the Baptist, we venerate the Holy Prophet John the Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, who baptized Jesus Christ in the River Jordan by placing his hand on him and bore witness to the revelation of the Holy Trinity.
Our Lord Jesus Christ referred to him as the greatest of the prophets. He was related to Jesus through the Mother of God. His parents, Priest Zechariah and Righteous Elisabeth had him six months before the birth of Jesus. They conceived him after many years of barrenness. Archangel Gabriel came to his father at the temple to announce his forthcoming birth. Through multiple and fervent prayers, he was endowed with plentiful gifts of the Holy Spirit.
He began his public ministry at 30 years of age, after a long time spent in preparation in strict fasting and prayer. Locusts were his main food, and the bare land was his bed. He prepared the ground for Jesus' ministry by announcing to the people the imminent coming of the Messiah and His kingdom and calling on them to repent. For his ministry, the church hymns call him "a bright star outshining the light of all the other stars". His prophecy on the coming of Jesus is likened to the dawn of the day of grace.
Saint John the Baptist died as a martyr six months after the baptism of Christ, at the behest of King Herod's daughter Salome and on orders of the king. As we read in the biblical account, Salome had asked that Saint John's severed head be brought to her on a silver platter. He concludes the history of the Old Testament and opens the era of the New Testament.