John the Baptist was likely born in Ain-Karim, southwest of Jerusalem. He was the son of Elizabeth, cousin of Mary, and Zachary, a priest in the Temple of Jerusalem.

When John was in his mother’s womb, Mary, pregnant with Jesus, visited her cousin Elizabeth. As soon as Mary approached, John recognized the presence of his Lord.

As a young adult, John lived as a hermit in the desert of Judea until about 27 AD. At the age of 30, he began to preach on the banks of the Jordan, calling people to repent and be baptized in the river. Jesus came to John to be baptized, and John recognized him again as the Messiah. He baptized Jesus, saying, “It is I who need baptism from you.”

After Jesus’ baptism, John continued to preach. He was imprisoned by Herod Antipas shortly afterward, when he denounced the king’s adulterous marriage to Herodias, the wife of his half-brother Philip.

At the request of Salome, daughter of Herodias, John was beheaded.