MOSCOW, July 7 (RIA Novosti, Ivan Korzun) - Russia is marking the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, with the event being commemorated in Orthodox churches throughout the country.
St. John, the last Old Testament prophet, opened the era of the New Testament, preparing people for the coming of Jesus Christ. Also called John the Forerunner, he baptized Jesus in the River Jordan, which marked the beginning of Jesus' ministry.
The Gospel of Luke describes the Lord's baptism in the following way: "And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22).
St. John is also venerated by Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Muslims. Western Christians commemorate him on June 24 due to differences in calendars used by Eastern and Western Christianity.