- Zechariah (priest)
). Citing their advanced age, Zechariah asked with disbelief for a sign whereby he would know the truth of this prophecy. In reply, the angel identified himself as the
Archangel Gabriel, sent especially by God to make this announcement, and added that because of Zechariah's doubt he would be struck dumb and "not able to speak until the day that these things happen". Consequently, when Zechariah went out to the waiting worshippers in the temple's outer courts, he was unable to pronounce the customary blessing (). The child grew up and "became strong in spirit", but remained in the desert of Judaea until he assumed the ministry that was to earn him the name " John the Baptist" (or "Baptizer") ().
Other Christian traditions
Origensuggested that the Zechariahmentioned in as having been killed between the temple and the altar may be the father of John the Baptist. [ [http://www.tektonics.org/lp/matt2335.html James Patrick Holding: Was Jesus in Error About Zachariah?] ] Apocryphal Christian tradition recounts that, at the time of the massacre of the Innocents, when King Herodordered the slaughter of all males under the age of two in an attempt to prevent the prophesied Messiah from coming to Israel, Zechariah refused to divulge the whereabouts of his son (who was in hiding), and he was therefore murdered by Herod's soldiers. This is also recorded in the Infancy Gospel of James, an apocryphal work from the second century. Since Mary was a relative of Elizabeth, Zechariah might have lived in the same area where Mary's family originated from.
Roman Catholic Churchcommemorates him as a saint, along with Elizabeth, on 23 September. ["Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)] He is also venerated as a prophet in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church on September 5. The Eastern Orthodox Churchalso celebrates the feast dayof Zechariah on September 5, together with Elizabeth, who is considered a matriarch. Zechariah and Elizabeth are invoked in several prayers during the Orthodox Mystery of Crowning (Sacrament of Marriage), as the priest blesses the newly-married couple, saying "Thou who didst... accept Zechariah and Elizabeth, and didst make their offspring the Forerunner..." and "...bless them, O Lord our God, as Thou didst Zechariah and Elizabeth...". In the Greek Orthodoxcalendar, Zechariah and Elizabeth are also commemorated on 24 June. Armeniansbelieve that the Gandzasar Monasteryin Nagorno Karabakhcontains relics of Zechariah.
Islamalso believes in the historical existence of Zechariah as the father of John the Baptist, and Muslims regard him as one of the Prophets of Islam. In Islam his name is commonly spelled Zakariya, from the Arabic زكريا.
* [http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=102502 Prophet Zachariah the father of St John the Baptist] Orthodox
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