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St. Zachary

Zachary (Zacharias) was the father of St. John the Baptist. Zachary and his wife Elizabeth were God-fearing, pious Jews who looked forward to the coming of the Christ. Both were of the house of Aaron; Elizabeth was a relative of the Virgin Mary and Zachary was a priest. Elizabeth had passed the age of child-bearing and she and her husband were sad because they had had no children. Once when it Zachary's turn to offer incense in the Temple at Jerusalem, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and told him that Elizabeth would bear a son who would be the forerunner of the Messiah. Zachary had difficulty believing this was a message from God and he asked the angel for a sign. Gabriel told him that he would be mute until his son John was born. When Zachary came out from the Temple, people realized he could not speak. He wrote what had happened down on a tablet. Once John was born, Zachary regained his speech and praised God in the Canticle of Zachary, which is now prayed at the Morning Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours. An uncertain tradition says that like his son John, Zachary was martyred; according to this traditi0n, Zachary was killed because he would not tell Herod’s guards where John was hiding. The feast of Zachary and Elizabeth is November 5. A Pope St. Zachary reigned between 741-52 and was known for his charity and his ability to reconcile different factions.

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