Traditions: Vigil of St. John the Baptist

Source: St. Isidore Church & Priory

Angelus Press brings us an explanation of the rich symbolism behind the blessing of bonfires on the Vigil of St. John the Baptist

Three births are celebrated particularly in the Catholic Church: that of Our Lord, Our Lady, and St. John the Baptist. St. John, as pious belief holds, was cleansed of Original Sin upon the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin to St. Elizabeth (Luke 1:57), making him, along with Jesus and Mary, free from sin at birth. And so it is fitting that all three are commemorated with a vigil, each with distinct ceremonies, liturgies, and traditions.

The Vigil of St. John the Baptist (June 23) takes place shortly after the longest day in the northern hemisphere. Appropriately, it captures a sense of light supplanting darkness throughout its liturgy and traditions. In fact, the earliest of references of the Baptist in Scriptures brings this to bear with the Canticle of Zachary: "And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt ...  enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death..." (Luke 1:76-79).

St. John's humility notwithstanding, his preaching announced that hope, light, and redemption was at hand, like a beacon of light shining into the murkiness of the Old Testament world. For this reason, our Catholic ancestors (who already had a tradition of summer solstice bonfires from pagan days) lit fires on the Vigil of the Baptist's birth...

Read the Full Story at Angelus Press' Blog: Instaurare Omnia in Christo