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St. John the Baptist - Ragusa PDF Print E-mail

John the Baptist (c. 6 BC– c. 36 AD) was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River. Most historians agree he baptized Jesus.

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John was a historical figure mentioned in each of the Canonical gospels, Aramaic Matthew and by the Jewish historian Josephus. He followed the example of previous Hebrew prophets, living austerely, challenging sinful rulers, calling for repentance, and promising God's justice. John is regarded as a prophet in Christianity, Islam, the Bahá'í Faith, and Mandaeism. Some scholars maintain that he was influenced by the Essenes, who were semi-ascetic, expected an apocalypse, and practiced rituals conferring strongly with baptism, although there is no direct evidence to substantiate this.

John's baptism was a purification rite for repentant sinners, performed in "living water" (in this case a running river) in accord with Jewish custom. John anticipated a messianic figure who would be greater than himself. Jesus may have been a follower of John. Herod Antipas saw John as a threat and had him executed at his wife's request. Many Christian theologians believe that the ministry of Jesus followed John's, and some of Jesus' early followers had previously been followers of John. Both John and Jesus preached at times of great political, social, and religious conflict.

Accounts of John in the New Testament are not incompatible with the account in Josephus. In the New Testament Jesus is the one whose coming John foretold. Herod has John imprisoned for denouncing his marriage, and he is later executed. Christians commonly refer to John as the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, since in the Gospels, John announces Jesus' coming. He is also identified with the prophet Elijah, and is described by the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus.

Because Scripture described John as endowed with prenatal grace, the feast day of his birth (June 24) became celebrated more solemnly than that marking his martyrdom (August 29). In art, John's head is often depicted on a platter, which represents the request of Herod's stepdaughter, Salome. A theme of Christian art is the beheading of St. John the Baptist. He is also depicted as an ascetic wearing camel hair and with a staff and scroll inscribed "Ecce Agnus Dei", or bearing a book or dish with a lamb on it. In Orthodox icons, he often has angel's wings, since Mark 1:2 describes him as ἄγγελος (angelos) (messenger).

At Ragusa, in th morning of August, 29, the bishop officiates the Holy Mass and in the afternoon starts a long procession with banners and flags. Women devotees, perform procession walking bare feet and with a lighted torch in their hands as a sign of devotion. The venerated wooden statue depicting St. John the Baptist is the work of the master Carmelo Licita, carved in 1838.

The procession crosses the main streets of the city and when it retuns to the cathedral, after the joyful sound of bells, there will be a magnificent fireworks show that closes the festivities.

Some parts of this article are from Wikipedia


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