|Herod by James Tissot|
The House of Herod was an astonishingly sick one even by the standards of the day. Herod the Great, was a monstrous individual and the first of a long line of anti-Christs. A Roman contemporary famously quipped that it was better to be Herod's pig than his son and that was true. Herod did not eat pork--in public anyway but his paranoia drove him to kill not only his wife, her mother and her still teen-aged brother but two of his sons as well.When Herod wasn't killing his family, he was killing enemies, real and imagined and making his subjects miserable. His viciousness was such that his courtiers probably weren't shocked when he ordered the Slaughter of the Innocents.
Herodias who was a key figure in the Passion of St. John, was the granddaughter of Herod the Great by one of his murdered sons. She was married to her half uncle, Herod II, (also called Herod Phillip) a son by King Herod's third wife. At some point she dumped her husband and taking her daughter, Salome went off to Gallilee in order to be with his half brother Herod Antipas, another son of Herod the Great by his fourth wife. Her new husband, Herod Antipas was both her brother-in-law and her uncle.
St. John the Baptist, the last of the prophets, of whom Our Lord said there was none greater born of woman, looked at the adulterous, incestuous couple and saw that they were crooked people sprung from a crooked house. Most people would've turned away, repulsed and given the situation up as hopeless but John did not. The Gospels tell us the rest of the story. His passion is commemorated on August 29.
|St. John the Baptist by Mattia Pretti|
St. John, precursor of the Lamb of God, pray for us.