Zachary, a priest in Jerusalem, encountered an extraordinary event when an angel in a vision foretold that he and his wife, Elizabeth, would have a son named John. Skeptical at first, Zachary lost his ability to speak as a result of his doubt. It wasn’t until the birth of his son that his speech returned. There is an uncorroborated tale that Zachary met a violent end in the Temple, refusing to reveal his son John’s whereabouts to Herod.
Elizabeth, a name held by numerous saints, is of Hebrew origin and means “worshiper of God.” The limited information about Elizabeth, the spouse of Zachary and mother of John the Baptist, comes exclusively from the Gospel of Luke. Descended from Aaron’s priestly lineage, she was related to the Virgin Mary, though the precise nature of their kinship isn’t detailed.
The Gospel chronicles Elizabeth’s virtuous life alongside Zachary in the Judaean hill country. Despite advancing in age without the fulfillment of her prayers for a child, she considered her infertility a cause for shame. During one of Zachary’s temple services, the Angel Gabriel appeared beside the altar and prophesied the birth of Elizabeth’s son.
It was in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s unexpected pregnancy that the Virgin Mary, having recently received her own news from Gabriel, sought to visit her. Mary journeyed from Nazareth to Elizabeth’s home, where she was greeted with prophetic honor as the “mother of my Lord.”
Elizabeth expressed her greeting in these heartfelt words: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
The narrative from the Gospel continues, describing the joy of Elizabeth’s friends and neighbors at the birth of her child. When it came time for his circumcision, they intended to name the boy after his father, Zachary. However, Elizabeth declared, “He shall be called John,” ensuring that the angel’s instructions were followed.
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