The Guéranger Blog

Welcome to the Gueranger Blog! You have stumbled across the notebook I use to record my thoughts as I read through Dom Prosper Gueranger's 15-volume set, The Liturgical Year. I do not have any special expertise in liturgy, but I have some general knowledge of Catholic theology and an enthusiasm for Gueranger's magnum opus. Think of it as the Liturgical Year fan site!

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Astronomy and the birth of John the Baptist

Canisius | 24 June, 2007 18:29

I already noted this, but I wanted it to appear on the appropriate day. In his commentary on John 3:30, Fr. Raymond Brown notes something worth adding to Dom Fromage's comments:

This verse has played a significant role in the tradition concerning John the Baptist. Just as the birthday of Jesus was fixed at December 25, the time of the winter solstice after which the days grow longer (the light has come into the world; he must increase), so John the Baptist’s birthday was fixed at June 24, the time of the summer solstice after which the days grow shorter (he was not the light; he must decrease). The two Greek verbs in vs. 30 are also used for the waxing and the waning of the light of heavenly bodies.

- Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John: i-xii (Anchor Bible 29; Doubleday: Garden City, 1966), 153.

UPDATE: Dom Fromage does actually mention this astronomical phenomenon (XII,247). While the custom was common of lighting an enormous bonfire on a hill to symbolize John, the "burning and shining light" (John 5:35), in some places folks would use a metal wheel, heated to the point of glowing, and then roll it down the hill to symbolize the diminishment of the light, in accord with John 3:30 and the summer solstice.


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