St. John the Baptist was a cousin of Jesus, and his mission was to preach repentance to Israel in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. When John rebuked King Herod for his unlawful union with Herodias, his brother’s wife, Herod had John imprisoned. On his birthday, Herod celebrated with a great feast as Salome, the daughter of Herodias, danced before his guests. Herod, pleased with Salome’s performance, promised to give her whatever she asked for, even up to half his kingdom. On the advice of her wicked mother, Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod regretfully ordered the execution. St. John the Baptist is the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets, highly venerated by the Church. The feast of his martyrdom is August 29th.