Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Ss Zechariah and Elizabeth

Although the Church Universal keeps today the memory of St Pius of Pietralcina, the stigmatist priest who died in 1968, we here at St John’s join the Church in the Holy Land and keep the feast day of St Zechariah and St Elizabeth, parents of our heavenly patron St John the Baptist. The propers for this Mass are used from the Holy Land Missal.
All that we know about them for certain is contained in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1: their words recorded there have been used in the Christian liturgy daily (Zechariah’s canticle, the Benedictus) and less frequently (as in the Gospel for the feast of the Visitation). Eastern tradition, supported by Basil and Cyril of Alexandria, asserts that Zechariah died as a martyr in the Temple by command of Herod. The Roman Martyrology, however, has nothing to say about Zechariah’s supposed martyrdom, but it joins Elizabeth to his cult. In fact, the Martyrology says:
Commemoration of saints Zechariah and Elizabeth, parents of blessed John the Baptist, Forerunner of the Lord. Elizabeth, related to Mary, received her in her home, and filled with the Holy Spirit, greeted the mother of the Lord with the words: “Blessed are thou amongst women”. Zechariah, a priest truly filled with prophetic spirit, as soon as his son was born, praised the redeemer God and to his neighbours proclaimed the coming of the Christ “who visits us like the dawn from on high.”

The Collect of Ss. Zechariah and Elizabeth from the Holy Land Missal:

May the Church glorify you, O Lord,
in the holy memory of Zechariah and Elizabeth,
parents of the forerunner of your Son.
Through their intercession grant that,
by loving you in everything and above everything,
We may obtain the good promised by you.
This we ask…

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