In the Church the custom was established that on the day following the Great Feasts of the Lord and the Mother of God would be remembered those saints who most essentially participated in whichever the sacred event. And thus, on the day following after the Theophany of the Lord, the Church honours he that participated directly in the Baptism of Christ, indeed placing his own hand upon the head of the Saviour.
Saint John, the holy Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, termed by our Lord the greatest of the prophets, both concludes the history of the Old Testament and opens up the epoch of the New Testament. The holy Prophet John gave witness concerning the arrival on earth of the Only-Begotten Son of God, incarnated humanly in the flesh. Saint John was deemed worthy to baptise Him in the waters of the Jordan and he was a witness of the Theophany or Manifestation of the Most Holy Trinity on the day of the Baptism of the Saviour. The holy Prophet John was a kinsman of the Lord on His mother’s side, the son of the Priest Zacharias and Righteous Elizabeth.
The holy Forerunner of the Lord, John, was born six months earlier than Christ Jesus. The Archangel Gabriel was the messenger of his birth, in the Jerusalem Temple revealing to his father, that for him a son was to be born. Through the prayers offered up beforehand, the child was filled with the Holy Spirit. Saint John prepared himself in the wilds of the desert for his great service by a strict life, by fasting, prayer, and sympathy for the fate of God’s people. At the age of about 30 years he came forth preaching repentance. He appeared at the banks of the Jordan, by his preaching to prepare the people for acceptance of the Saviour of the world. In the expression of churchly song, Saint John was a “bright morning star,” whose gleaming outshone the shining of all the other stars, announcing the coming morning of the day of grace, illumined with the light of the spiritual Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Having baptised the sinless Lamb of God, Saint John soon died a martyr’s death, beheaded by the sword on orders of king Herod in fulfilling the request of his daughter Salome. (About Saint John the Baptist, vide: Mt. 3:1-16, 11:1-19, 14:1-12; Mk. 1:2-8, 6:14-29; Lk. 1:5-25, 39‑80, 3:1-20, 7:18-35, 9:7-9; Jn. 1:19-34, 3:22-26).