1. june 2020
In the centre of the icon, John the Baptist is depicted with wings as the Angel of the Desert. "Behold, I will send my angel, and he shall prepare a way before me." (Mal 3:1) In his right hand he holds a pilgrim's staff and in his left a scroll and a cup on it with his severed head. He is wearing a "red" garment with a dark blue coat. The symbolism of colours expresses John's mission to announce the coming of "He who is greater than him". He became an image of Christ dressed in His colors. In iconography, the Son of God has a red garment as a heavenly king and blue garment as a sign of a mysterious incarnation. The inexhaustible God puts on human limitations. Trees and an axe are a pictorial interpretation of the words: “After all, the axe is already attached to the root of the trees! Every tree that does not bear good fruit will therefore be cut down and thrown into the fire”(Matthew 3:10). The saints on both sides of John the Baptist are John the Evangelist and John the Soldier. In the oval, in the lower left corner, is the inscription: "This icon was written according to the miraculous icon of John the Baptist, located in the Bolshioi Zal." The Nikolo-Babaevsky monastery in Yegoryevsk was founded in the 15th century and was destroyed by fire in 1719. The open scroll carries the scriptures: "When he saw Jesus coming to him, he cried out: "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29)". Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17).
Twenty scenes from the life of John the Baptist are written around the perimeter of the icon:
1. During his service in the temple, the Angel Gabriel announces to Zechariah the birth of a son. "Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John (Luke 1:11-13).
(Благая весть Архангела Гавриила Захарию о зачатии Иона Претечи)
2. Dumb Zechariah comes out of the temple and meets Elizabeth and the rest of the people waiting for his blessing. “Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak” (Luke 1:21-22).
(Изше́дъ Захария из Алтаря же не можа́ше глаго́лати къ ни́мъ: и разумѣ́ша, я́ко видѣ́нiе ви́дѣ)
3. The conception of St. John the Baptist. “After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” (Luke 1:24-25).
(Зачатие Святого Иоанна Претечи)
4. Virgin Mary visits Elizabeth. “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear!” (Luke 1:39-42)
(Воставше Мариам, иде в Горнее со тщанием во град Иудов, и вошла в дом Захарии и приветствовала Елисавету)
5. Birth of Saint John the Baptist and choice of name . “When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. (Luke 1:57-63)
(Рождество святого Иоанна Претечи)
6. Saint Elizabeth and her child John hide from Herod's soldiers
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. (Matthew 2:7-9.11-12, 16)
(Святая Елисавета с Иоанном в горе скрывшей от воина)
7. The angel of the Lord leads the young John into the desert
“And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.” (Luke 1:80)
(Ангел Господний ведет Святого Ионна в пустыну)
8. The angel announces to John the good news of the Savior
A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3).
(Слышал Иоанн благовесть от Ангела)
9. John conducts his mission and exhorts people to repentance
People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.“ (Matthew 3:5.7-8)
(Исходящым народом креститися от него: порождения ехиднова, кто сказа вам бежати от грядущаго гнева и плода божественного сотворения достоин)
10. The revelation (Baptism) of our Lord Jesus Christ
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)
(Богоявления Господа нашего, Иисуса Христа)
11. John baptizes people. The text: "Assembly of St. John the Baptist"
People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. (Matthew 3:5-6)
(Собор Святого Ионна)
12. John lives in the desert John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. (Matthew, 3:4)
(Святой Иоанн в пустыни Акриды Имелъ дa вн Iпiяш выпивать воду от Иордана)
13. John's speech to the multitudes and states who asked him what to do so that they would not be damned. John's answer is short: "Repent!"
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
(Во утрий же виде Иоанн Иисуса, грядуща к себе, и глагола: се, Агнец Божий, вземляй грехи мира и народам глаголяти)
14. John convicts Herod and Herodias of the sin of fornication
For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” (Mark 6:17-18)
(Святой Иоанн обличаше Ирода неподобает ти прелюбодеяти жену филиппа брата своего)
15. John is beheaded in the prison on the request of Salome who followed Herodias’ angry instructions
The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. (Mark 6:26-28) (Усекновение головы Иоанна Предтечи)
16. Salome dances for Herod and other leading men at the feast.
When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” “The head of John the Baptist,” she answered. (Mark 6:22-24).
(Ирод Вечерю Сотворяюще Девице от Ироду же клявшуся же проси у мене а́ще хо́щеши полуцарствие моего дам ти)
17. John's disciples bury his dead body. On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. (Mark 6:29)
(Ученицы же Иоанновы взяли тело его и погребли)
18. The descent of John into the underworld
(Сошествие во ад Святого Ионна Предтечи)
19. The finding of the venerable head of John the Baptist
(Обре́тение честной главы Иоанна Предтечи)
20. The third finding of the venerable head of John the Baptist
(Третье Обре́тение честной главы Иоанна Предтечи)
The spiritual heritage:
God, You have chosen Saint John the Baptist to prepare the people willing to receive Christ; give Thy joy unto thy people, and guide all that believe in Thee by the way of peace and salvation. We ask this through Your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, because he lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit for all ages. Amen.
(Closing prayer from the breviary)