St. John the Baptist Parish, A Parish of the Russian Orthodox Church, Canberra, Australia

23 September / 6 October

The Conception of the Honourable, Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

On this day are celebrated God's mercy, His wondrous act and His wisdom: His mercy towards the devout and righteous parents of St John, the aged Zacharias and Elisabeth, who had all their lives begged a child of God; the wonder of the conception of John in Elisabeth's more-than-aged womb; and the wisdom of the dispensation of man's salvation. For John, God had a specially great plan: that he should be a prophet and the forerunner of Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world. Through His angels, God revealed the birth of Isaac to the childless Sarah, and of Samson to the childless Manoah and his wife, and of John the Baptist to the childless Zacharias and Elisabeth. Through His angels, God revealed the birth of those for whom He had a special plan. How could children be born of aged parents? If someone is curious to find out, let him not ask men, for men do not know, nor does natural law (it being beyond natural law), but let him turn his gaze to the power of almighty God, who made the whole world from nothing and who, for the creation of Adam, the first man, used no parents, either young or old. Instead of being curious, let us thank God that He often reveals to us His power and mercy and wisdom beyond the natural law, by which we would otherwise be fettered and, without these special wonders of God, would fall into despair and forgetfulness of Him. The Holy Martyr Iraida.

St. Adamnan, abbot of Iona and biograpgher of St. Columba (627-704)

He was born in Co. Donegal and became a monk in one of St. Columba's monasteries in Ireland. He was a biblical scholar and teacher. who moved to Iona under abbot Segene, whom he succeeded in 679. He became famous both as a writer and as a leading protagonist in Northern Ireland of the Roman system of calculating Easter. In 686 he came to Northumbria to obtain from his former pupil King Aldfrith the release of sixty Irish prisoners. captured during the reign of Egfrith (670-85). In 688 St Adamnan visited St. Ceolfrith of Wearmouth, who converted him from the Iona tradition of Easter calculation and other practices. In 692 he took part in Irish synods and conventions as the ruler of Iona's monasteries in Northern Ireland. Then and in 697 he met with considerable success, pleading for the acceptance of the Easter dates which were kept by Rome and virtually all the Church in the West. At the Synod of Birr (697) he persuaded leading clerics and laymen to adopt the Law of Adamnan (Cain Adamnan) which protected women by exempting them from going to battle and insisting that they be treated by all as non-combatants. Boys and clerics were similarly protected and provision was made for effective sanctuary. These rules the first example of their kind came to be accepted all over Ireland. St. Adamnan's principal work was the Life of his relative Columba, founder of Iona. This influential portrait of a charismatic pioneer is one of the most vivid Lives to be produced in its time. He also wrote a work on the Holy Places of Palestine, compiled from information provided by the French bishop Arculfus. who had been shipwrecked in western Britain. After Adamnan's death, Iona accepted the Roman Easter in 716.

On the same day: The Holy New Martyr Nicolas Pantopoles (The Grocer); The Holy New Martyr John

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