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Saint Zachary and Saint Elizabeth
Feast Day: November 5th
Today is historically the feast of Saint Zachary and Saint Elizabeth, the parents of Saint John the Baptist.
The name Elizabeth, which has been borne by several saints, means in Hebrew "worshiper of God." All that we know of Elizabeth, wife of Zachary and mother of John the Baptist, is to be found in the book of Luke. A descendant of the priestly line of Aaron, she was a kinswoman - how close we are not told – of the Virgin Mary.
Saint Zachary was of the tribe of Abia, and a member of the priestly class. It was customary for the priests whose week it was to serve in the temple to cast lots each day for the performance of the various rituals. One day, during Zachary's period of service, the privilege of offering incense on the altar in the holy place fell to him, and while he was alone before the altar performing this rite, the Angel Gabriel appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar. Zachary was troubled and afraid. Then Gabriel spoke, saying that the prayers of the priest and his wife would be answered; a son was to be born to them, and his name was to be John. Zachary found this hard to believe, for both he and Elizabeth were advanced in years. Overcoming his fear, he asked the angel for some sign. Because he doubted, the angel announced that Zachary would be stricken dumb and would regain the power of speech only when the prophecy was fulfilled. Then the angel disappeared and Zachary came forth from the temple. The people saw that he was unable to speak and they knew then that he had received a vision from the Lord.
Elizabeth conceived and gave birth to the one who was to be the Precursor of the Lord. After eight days, when the child was about to be circumcised, Elizabeth told the people that he was to be named John; and Zachary, still unable to speak, asked for a tablet, and on it he wrote the words, "John is his name." At this moment Zachary's tongue was loosed, and he began to praise the Lord. The New Testament tells us nothing further concerning St. Zachary. In Hebrew his name means "Jehovah hath remembered."
—Excerpted from Lives of Saints, Published by John J. Crawley & Co., Inc.