According to ancient tradition, the burial-place of John the Baptist was at Sebaste in Samaria, and mention is made of his relics being honored there around the middle of the 4th century. Historians record that the shrine was desecrated under Julian the Apostate around 362, the bones being partly burned. A portion of the rescued relics were carried to Jerusalem, then to Alexandria, where they were laid in the basilica that was newly dedicated to the Forerunner on the former site of the temple of Serapis. Many places claim to have a portion of his relics. An obscure and surprising claim relates to the town of Halifax in West Yorkshire, United Kingdom, where the Baptist’s head appears on the official coat-of-arms. A legend first recorded in the late 16th century and reported in William Camden’s Britannia accounts for the town’s place-name, as ‘halig’ (holy) and ‘fax’ (face), by stating that the first religious settlers of the district brought the ‘face’ of John the Baptist with them.
We thank You for the life of John the Baptist, prophetic forerunner to Christ Jesus. May his prophetic words resound throughout the Church of England:
Turn away from your sins and be baptized, and God will forgive your sins. . . . The man who will come after me is much greater than I am. I am not good enough even to bend down and untie his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.