29 August / 11 September
Herod Antipas, son of the Herod who slew the young children in Bethlehem at the time of the birth of the Lord Jesus, was ruler of Galilee when John the Baptist was preaching. This Herod was married to the daughter of Aretas, an Arabian prince. But Herod, an evil branch of evil stock, put away his lawful wife and took Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, to live with him while Philip was still alive. John the Baptist stood up against this lawlessness and strongly denounced Herod, at which Herod threw him into prison. At the time of some feast at his court in Sebastia in Galilee, Salome, the daughter of Herodias and Philip, danced for the guests. Herod, in his cups and carried away by her dancing, promised her whatever she asked, even to the half of his kingdom. Instructed by her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist. Herod commanded that John be beheaded in the prison and his head brought on a platter. John's disciples took the body of their teacher by night and buried it, but Herod tore out John's tongue with a needle and then buried his head in an unclean place. What later happened to John's head is recorded and can be read the Prologue under February 24th. God's punishment was quickly visited upon this group of evildoers. Prince Aretas, to avenge his daughter's honour, attacked Herod with his army and brought him to his knees. The defeated Herod was condemned by the Roman Caesar, Caligula, to exile first in Gaul and then in Spain. As exiles, Herod and Herodias lived in need and debasement until the earth opened and swallowed them up. Salome, Herodias's daughter, came to a bad end in the river Sikaris (Sula). The death of John took place before the Passover, but its commemoration on August 29th was instituted because it was on this day that a church, that had been built over his grave in Sebastia by the Emperor Constantine and the Empress Helena, was consecrated. In this church were also placed the relics of John's disciples, Eliseus and Audius. Our Holy Mother Theodora of Salonica.
Troparion (tone 2): The memory of the just is celebrated with hymns of praise/ but the Lord's testimony is enough for thee, O Forerunner,/ for thou wast shown to be more wonderful than the Prophets/ since thou wast granted to baptize in the running waters / Him Whom thou didst proclaim./ Then having endured great suffering for the Truth,/ Thou didst rejoice to bring, even to those in hell/ the good tidings that God Who had appeared in the flesh/ takes away the sin of the world/ and grants us the great mercy.
Kontakion (tone 5): The beheading of the glorious Forerunner/ was a divine dispensation/ that the coming of the Savior might be preached to those in hell./ Lament then, Herodias,/ that thou didst demand a murder/ despising the law of God and eternal life. Tone 6: 0 protection of Christians that cannot be put to shame, O mediation unto the creator unfailing, disdain not the suppliant voices of sinners, but be thou quick, O good one, to help us who in faith cry unto thee; hasten to intercession and speed thou to make supplication, thou who dost ever protect, O Theotokos, them that honour thee.
Hhe became the king of Essex (or the East Saxons) following the conversion of the kingdom by St. Cedd in 664. He ruled at a time when there was relative peace and the realm was under the domination of Mercia, a nearby kingdom. Sebbi abdicated after ruling thirty years and became a monk in London. He died there and was buried in the old St. Paul's.