He was the father of St. John the Forerunner. Zacharias was the son of Barachias, from the lineage of Abia, of the sons of Aaron. Zacharias was a high priest who held the eight degree of service in the Temple of Jerusalem. His wife Elizabeth was the daughter of Sophia and the sister of St. Anna, who was the mother of the Holy Theotokos. During the reign of King Herod the child-slayer, Zacharias was serving one day at the Temple of Jerusalem according to his turn. An angel of God appeared to him in the sanctuary, and Zacharias had great fear. The angel said to him: Fear not, Zacharias (Luke 1:13), and announced that Elizabeth would bear a son, in answer to their prayers. But both Zacharias and Elizabeth were old. When Zacharias doubted the words of the heavenly herald, the angel said: I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God (Luke 1:19). Zacharias was struck dumb from that hour, and could not speak until his son was born and he had written on a tablet: His name is John (Luke 1:63). Then his speech returned, and he magnified God. Some time later, when the Lord Jesus had been born and Herod began to slaughter the children of Bethlehem, he sent men to find and kill the son of Zacharias – for Herod had heard all that had happened to Zacharias, and how John has been born. Upon seeing the soldiers coming, Elizabeth took John into her arms – he was a year and a half old at that time – fled from the house with him, and ran to a rocky and desolate place. When she saw the soldiers following her, she cried out to the mountain: “O Mountain of God, receive a mother with her child!” and the rock opened and hid the mother and child. Then Herod, enraged that the child John had not been slain, ordered Zacharias be slain before the altar. The blood of Zacharias was spilled on the marble and dried solid as stone, and remained as a witness as Herod’s evil deed. In the place where Elizabeth hid with John a cave opened, water flowed out of it, and a fruit-bearing palm grew, all by the power of God. Forty days after the death of Zacharias, the blessed Elizabeth died. The child John remained in the wilderness, fed by an angel and protected by God’s providence, until the day he appeared at the Jordan.

Source: St. Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue of Ohrid – Volume Two.


On this day the Prophet and venerable priest of the Most High, even Zacharias, who begat the Forerunner, hath now mixed for us the draught of virtue and set the table of his sacred memory nourishing all the faithful; for this cause do we extol him as a most godly initiate of grace divine.