The iconography of the Conception of St.John the Precurser
Is based on the Gospel According to St.Luke (Lk.1: 5-25, 57,65). The festival was established as early as in the 1V century (the date is determined according to the Word of St.John Chrysostom in respect of this Festival).
According to the Gospel, St.John Chrysostom was born in the family of the pious priest Zachary, who belonged to the course of Abia (the 8th out of 24), a later version refers to Zachary as the chief priest.His mother was the righteous St.Elizabeth from the house and lineage of Aaron (L.1:5) who was a relative of the Mother of God.The parents were advanced in years and childless.The birth of St.John the Precurser was predicted by the Archangel Gabriel who appeared at the temple where Zachary served as priest before God.Zachary entered the temple sanctuary during the liturgical prayer and worship and saw the angel of heaven standing on the right side of the altar of incence. Zachary was troubled and stopped in horror but the Angel said to him: “Don’t be afraid, Zachary, for your prayer is heard and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you shall call his name John”. Zachary who did not believe his words and became speechless (L.1:22) until the newly-born baby was named (L.1:63,64). St.John the Precurser was born in the town of Judecata (L.1:39) (it can be present Ein-Kerem).
The iconography of the Conception of St.John the Precurser is based on the composition of the Conception of the Holy Virgin: the parents of St.John the Precurser are depicted embracing each other against the townscape. The iconography of the Conception of St.John the Precurser was not spread in the early Byzantine period, the subject matter appears in the Paleologue period.The composition of the Conception of St.John the Precurser first appears in the border scene of the icon “St.John the Precurser with hagiology in 15 border scenes” in St.Catherine’s Monastery of Mount Sinai (beginning of the XШ century)