Commemorated on January 7th
Synaxis of St John the Baptist and Forerunner of Christ
On this day we celebrate the Feast of the holy prophet St John the Baptist and Forerunner as well as the coming of his most holy Relic (hand) to Constantinople. We received from above and from the beginning to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Forerunner and Baptist John one day after Holy Epiphany, i.e. January 7th, because he served at the mystery of the Lord's Baptism.
For this reason this feast is counted with the rest of the Forerunner's feasts so that we should not keep silence over his miraculous and supernatural gifts. It happened that on the evening of Epiphany, the arrival of the holy hand of the Forerunner to Constantinople took place.
St Luke the Evangelist went to the city of Sebaste, in which as they say the holy body of the Forerunner was buried, and, after he had received the right hand of the prophet's body, he brought it to Antioch, his home city, where it performed a lot of miracles. One of these miracles is the following. Just outside the city of Antioch there lurked a dragon who was raised to the level of a god by the Greeks living in Antioch. They honoured him every year with a sacrifice. The worst part of it was that the victim was human. As time passed the lot fell upon a Christian to give his daughter to the dragon. He would come out of his cave dreadful and horrible to look at and would open his mouth to receive the victim offered to him. Then he would tear her apart with his teeth.
The father of a girl chosen to be a sacrifice was praying with deep sighs and tears to God and the holy Forerunner to free his country from such a bitter killer. As he was praying, he came up with an idea as it often happens with people in need. He was going to attempt such an endeavour. He asked to venerate the holy hand of the Forerunner and, as he was kissing it, he secretly cut with his teeth the thumb. When he got what he wanted he came out of the church. When the day on which his daughter was expected to be sacrificed arrived, all the people of the city gathered to watch the sacrifice. In front of them all the father holding his daughter approached the dragon. When he saw the dragon opening his mouth to devour his daughter, the threw into its throat the holy finger of the Forerunner and, what a miracle! The dragon was immediately killed. When this had happened, the father received his daughter alive and went back home rejoicing and relating the miracle. The gathered crowds of the people seeing this miraculous event were amazed. So, they gave thanks to God and the holy Forerunner and built a great church in his name.
Dismissal Hymn (Second Tone)
The memory of the just is celebrated with hymns of praise, but the Lord's testimony is sufficient for you, O Forerunner; for you have proved to be truly even more venerable than the Prophets, since you were granted to baptize in the running waters Him Whom they proclaimed. Therefore, having contested for the truth, you rejoiced to announce the good tidings even to those in Hades: that God has appeared in the flesh, taking away the sin of the world and granting us great mercy.
Kontakion (Plagal of the Second Tone)
The Jordan accepted your presence in the flesh and reversed its course in fear. John, fulfilling the spiritual ministry, fell back in awe. The ranks of Angels, seeing you in the flesh, baptized in the river, were amazed, and all who were in darkness were filled with light, praising you who appeared and enlightened all.