"Prophet of the Most High", Saint John was consecrated from his mother's womb to announce the coming of the Messiah and to prepare souls for his advent by a baptism of penance.
He is the son of the priest Zacharias and Elizabeth, the cousin of the Blessed Virgin. His birth is solemnly celebrated every year by the Church on June 24th. The solstices were the occasion for pagan feasts where fires were lit to honour the star that gives us light. The Church christianized these rites by seeing in them a symbol of St. John, a "burning and shining lamp" announcing the Saviour. Thus the fires of St. John celebrate the coming into the world of the Forerunner with joy and gladness, in a kind of summer Christmas. The birth of St. John the Baptist occupies a special place in the liturgy because of its link with the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word. By closing the mission of the Prophets and opening that of the Apostles, it serves as a link between the Old and New Testaments. His place of honour in the cult of the saints is due to his closeness to the Messiah. Thus the name of John the Baptist, in several parts of the Mass as in the Litanies of the Saints, always precedes that of the Apostles, just as his feast day precedes that of Saints Peter and Paul. He baptized Our Lord and presides, as it were, at the baptism of all Christians, since all the baptisteries are dedicated to him, such as that of St. John Lateran in Rome. His image adorns all the baptismal fonts. In the same way, his words pointing to the Lamb of God prepare for the fruitful reception of the Eucharist in holy communion.