The Conception of the Venerable Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John.
The holy Prophet Malachi prophesied that before the Messias would appear His Forerunner would indicate His coming. The Jews therefore in awaiting the Messias also awaited the appearance of His Forerunner.
In a city of the hills of Judea in the land of Palestine lived the righteous priest Saint Zacharias and his wife Saint Elizabeth, assiduously observing the commandments of the Lord. The couple however had a misfortune: getting up in years they remained childless and they prayed unceasingly to God, that He should grant them a child.
One time, when Saint Zacharias was in turn priest at the Temple of Jerusalem, he went during the time of Divine services into the Sanctuary for making an incensing. Having gone in behind the Sanctuary veil, he beheld an Angel of God, standing at the right side of the incense altar. Saint Zacharias was astonished and halted in fear, but the Angel said to him: “Fear not, Zacharias, thy prayer is heard, and thy wife Elizabeth will bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.” But Righteous Zacharias did not believe the words of the heavenly messenger, and then the Angel said to him: “I am Gabriel, that standeth before God and am sent to announce this unto thee. But now, thou shalt be mute until the day of birth, since that thou hast not believed my words.”
Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zacharias and they were astonished, that he had not come out from the Sanctuary after so long a time. And when he did come out, he was supposed to pronounce a blessing upon the people, but could not pronounce it since he had been struck speechless. When Zacharias explained by gestures that he was unable to speak, the people then understood that he had experienced a vision.
The prophecy of the Archangel was fulfilled, and Righteous Elizabeth was delivered from her barrenness, having given birth to the Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, named John.