On September 11, Thursday, the Orthodox Christiandom commemorates the martyric death of St John the Baptist and Forerunner of Christ.
The Russian Orthodox Church prescribes strict fasting on this day as an expression of sorrow over the violent death of the great Prophet.
Since 1769, on this day the Russian Church has commemorated all soldiers who perished on battlefields.
The Gospel says St John the Forerunner announced the coming of Christ the Saviour and baptised people in the Jordan.
The Prophet openly denounced Herod, the ruler of Galilee, for having abandoned his lawful wife and for cohabiting unlawfully with his brother's wife Herodia. Soon after the Baptism of Jesus Christ the Prophet was imprisoned by Herod.
On his birthday, Herod gave a banquet for his nobles, dignitaries and officers. Salome, Herodia's daughter, danced before the guests and greatly pleased Herod. Herod swore he would give the maiden whatever she asked, even one half of his kingdom. Following the advice of her wicked mother, Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist on a salver.
This saddened Herod for he had heeded the Prophet's words in the past, and feared the wrath of God and of the people who loved the Forerunner. Yet, he made this rush promise before the guests and felt obliged to order St John to be beheaded and his head given to Salome.