The Church today remembers St. Elizabeth and St. Zachariah, the parents of John the Baptist. 

Elizabeth was related to Mary, the Mother of God, but her exact familial connection is clear. They are often called “cousins” in Church tradition. 

In the Bible, we learn that Elizabeth had longed for a child all her life, but was unable to conceive. When she was much older, the angel Gabriel appeared to her husband, Zachariah, and promised him that his wife would have a son, and that they would name him John. 

Zachariah did not believe Gabriel’s words, as his wife was too old to have children. Because of his doubt, the angel told him he would be made mute until his son was born and the prophecy of his birth had come to pass.

Elizabeth became pregnant, and when Mary came to visit her, having also been visited by the angel Gabriel, the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy. Elizabeth greeted Mary, saying, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,” words we say today in the “Hail Mary.”

When Elizabeth’s son was born, they brought him to the temple to be circumcised, and her friends and neighbors believed that the boy would be named after his father, but Zachariah, still unable to speak, wrote on a tablet that the baby’s name would be John. Then he regained his speech, and praised the Lord for fulfilling the prophecy.