Feast Day of the Beheading of John the Baptist

Monday, August 29, AD 2016

August 29 is the feast day of the beheading of John the Baptist, the herald of Christ.  Charlton Heston, in the video clip above, gave a powerful portrayal of the Baptist in The Greatest Story Ever Told, capturing the raw courage and energy that animated John the Baptist as a result of the blazing faith he had in God.  Like Elijah, John came out of the wilderness to fearlessly proclaim the word of God, but what Elijah and the other prophets could only glimpse darkly, the coming of the Messiah, John saw with his own eyes.  The last and greatest of the prophets, John fulfilled the role of Elijah as proclaimed by the prophet Malachi:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.

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One Response to Feast Day of the Beheading of John the Baptist


Saturday, March 28, AD 2015


Something for the weekend.  Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus performed as the Recessional Hymn at St. Francis Xavier Church in New York City on Easter Sunday March 31, 2013.  Although The Messiah has become identified with Christmas, the Hallelujah Chorus is clearly in the Easter section of The Messiah.  The conclusion of the film The Greatest Story Ever Told, got this right:

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3 Responses to Hallelujah

  • While this rendition of the “Hallelujah Chorus” is certainly well done
    and the church interior is also beautiful, I must point out a fly in the
    ointment. The parish where this video was made, St. Francis Xavier
    in New York City, is a Jesuit parish notorious as the “gay parish” in
    Cardinal Dolan has written to the parishes of his archdiocese asking
    them to refrain from participating in NYC’s annual “Gay Pride” march,
    but St. FX has done so anyway, with a contingent from the parish
    marching in the parade with a banner proclaiming the parish’s affiliation.
    The “Gay Pride” events have been advertised in leaflets handed out
    after Mass at the church. The parish hosts an annual “LGBT anniversary
    I’m sure there are many fine people who attend St. Francis Xavier parish,
    and they certainly know how to sing the “Hallelujah Chorus”, but some-
    thing is seriously awry there.

  • Wonderful music for Sunday morning- the Son is shining and it will be a beautiful day.

  • Speaking of LBGT, I hope after Easter TAC will comment on the new Indiana law signed by Gov Pence that is supposed to protect freedom of religion. I have not seen any reports that address religious freedom, only hysteria from the left about discrimination against the LBGT.

    Back to the Hallelujah, “the Son is shining”, well put.
    Beautiful music performed in a beautiful house of God.
    Thank you for the post. A Happy and Blessed Easter to you, and your family.

Screen Pilates: Telly Savalas

Tuesday, March 26, AD 2013


Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen and Hristov Shopov may be read here, here, here and here.

Telly Savalas in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) gives a fairly stolid performance as Pilate.  He portrays Pilate as a world weary Roman functionary to whom Christ is merely a problem he does not need.  When he transfers Christ’s case to Herod, we see Jose Ferrer who gives a strikingly good portrayal of Herod Antipas.  Ferrer portrayed Herod as a man touched against his will by the words of John the Baptist.  Now however he has executed John the Baptist, and has given himself up for damned, taking refuge in drink.

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9 Responses to Screen Pilates: Telly Savalas

  • Rod Steiger was undeniably a great Pilate and Jesus of Nazareth is one of my all time favorites. But when I picture Pilate in my mind’s eye, I see and hear Hristov Shopov. He was just perfect for the role. His physical look (much like Steiger), but also his ability to convey so much with his facial expressions. He is hands down my favorite ~ he’s who I picture when I think of Pilate.

    Funny how certain movies have left me with ALWAYS picturing a certain actor when I think of the real-life person. Shopov is Pilate. Cavaziel or Robert Powell for Jesus. James Farentino is Peter. Olivia Hussey or Maia Morgenstern for the Blessed Mother.

    The Passion and Jesus of Nazareth are definitely my all-time keepers.

  • It was for this role that Telly Savalas shaved his head, creating the signature look that he kept for the rest of his career. So if it hadn’t been for Pilate, Kojak might have had hair….

  • I have watched “The Passion of The Christ” and “Jesus of Nazareth” a couple of times and those films are amazing! I will have to watch “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and see how good the movie is. Thank you for a great movie suggestion. This will be a perfect film to watch tonight with the family and feel Jesus’ undying love in our hearts. Thank you!

  • I think you will enjoy it Erin. The sequence after the Resurrection is especially good:

  • Wow, I hadn’t heard of Telly Savales in years. Guess he’s deceased by now.

  • Telly Savales was a kind man. Many years ago, my brother Gerald was shopping in a hat store in NYC. He noticed that Mr. Savales was in the store and approached him to ask what sort of hat he wore on Kojak. Telly spent some time looking with Gerry to find one of the right size and then bought it for him as a gift. As far as we know, there were no bodyguards or any entourage. Just a simple, touching encounter with a humble and kind man. I don’t think my brother knew it was paid for by Savales until he went to the cashier. They’re both gone now but I hope they get together occasionally in the Lord’s presence.

  • I have heard similar stories about Mr. Savalas, William. May his soul rest in peace, as may the soul of your brother Gerald.

  • Thank you and a Happy Easter to you and yours.

Josephus on the Beheading of John the Baptist

Wednesday, August 29, AD 2012

Today is the feast of the beheading of Saint John the Baptist, an event which is mentioned in a source other than the Gospels.  Here is the Jewish historian Josephus who wrote circa 93-94 AD  regarding the death of the Baptist in his Jewish Antiquities:

About this time Aretas, the king of  Petra, and Herod the Tetrarch had a quarrel on account of the following. Herod the tetrarch had married the daughter of Aretas and had lived with her a great while; but once when he was on his way to Rome he lodged with  his half-brother, also named Herod but who had a different mother,  the high priest Simon’s daughter.  There he fell in love with Herodias, this latter Herod’s wife, who was the daughter of their brother Aristobulus and the sister of Agrippa the Great.     This man ventured to talk to her about a marriage between them; she accepted, and an agreement was made for her to come to him as soon as he should return from Rome, one condition of this marriage being that he should divorce Aretas’s daughter. So when he had made this agreement, he sailed to Rome; but when he had finished there and returned again, his wife, having discovered the agreement he had made with Herodias, and before he knew that she knew of the plan, asked him to send her to Machaerus, a place on the border between the territories of Aretas and Herod, without informing him of any of her intentions.     Accordingly Herod sent her there, thinking his wife had not perceived anything. But she had sent messages a good while before to Machaerus, which had been under the control of her father, and so all things necessary for her escape were made ready for her by the general of Aretas’s army.  By that means she soon came into Arabia, under the conduct of the several generals, who carried her from one to another successively; and soon she came to her father and told him of Herod’s intentions.     Aretas made this the start of his enmity toward Herod. He also had a quarrel with him about their boundaries in the area of Gabalis. So they raised armies on both sides and prepared for war, sending their generals to fight instead of themselves. And when they had joined battle, all Herod’s army was destroyed by the treachery of some fugitives who, though they were of the tetrarchy of Philip and joined the army, betrayed him.  So Herod wrote about these affairs to Emperor Tiberius, who was very angry at the attempt made by Aretas and wrote to Vitellius to make war upon him and either to take him alive, and bring him in chains, or to kill him, and send him his head. This was the command that Tiberius gave to the governor of Syria.

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2 Responses to Josephus on the Beheading of John the Baptist

  • John was not saved from prison miraculously as were others. Both Peter in Acts 12 and Paul in Acts 16 are saved from prison; Peter by an angel after great prayer by the Church and Paul by an earthquake after he and Silas prayed and sang hymns in prison after being beaten with rods. Paul didn’t flee though but converted the jailer and his whole household and went back to his cell in the AM by choice and was released by the Romans.
    But John was not saved miraculously from prison like Peter and Paul. But since all three were martyred in the long run, therefore Peter and Paul eventually experienced the inescapable custody of John that led to Heaven. And yes….Paul sang hymns after being beaten with rods by Roman soldiers and being put in chains; and last week I cursed as I got a flat tire.

  • How many more St.Johns and St. Thomas Moores do we need to wake up? How many more Henrys and Herods will there be before we come to understand that a wrong is a wrong and a good is a good and there is no “in-between”?
    Henry the VIIIth destroyed England and Herods of these times are destroying the world at large – and we let them!

Christus Victor

Sunday, April 24, AD 2011

Thou art holy, Lord God, who alone workest wonders. Thou art strong. Thou art great. Thou art most high. Thou art the Almighty King, Thou, holy Father, King of heaven and earth. Thou art the Lord God Triune and One; all good. Thou art good, all good, highest good, Lord God living and true. Thou art charity, love. Thou art wisdom. Thou art humility. Thou art patience. Thou art security. Thou art quietude. Thou art joy and gladness. Thou art justice and temperance. Thou art all riches to sufficiency. Thou art beauty. Thou art meekness. Thou art protector. Thou art guardian and defender. Thou art strength. Thou art refreshment. Thou art our hope. Thou art our faith. Thou art our great sweetness. Thou art our eternal life, great and admirable Lord, God Almighty, merciful Saviour.

                                                              Saint Francis of Assisi

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