Today is the memorial of The Passion (beheading) of Saint John the Baptist. Called to proclaim the coming of the Messiah, he boldly spoke the truth in word and deed. Saint John rebuked Herod Antipas’ behavior at having married his niece, who was also his half-brother’s wife, saying, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herod placed John in prison. While John was incarcerated, he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if he was the Messiah, to which Jesus replied that his actions spoke for themselves. As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus told the onlookers that John more than a prophet. After Herod had John beheaded at John’s behest, his disciples took his body and buried it. 
Statue by Mussner Vincenzo
From the office of readings:
Through his birth, preaching and baptizing, he bore witness to the coming birth, preaching and baptism of Christ, and by his own suffering he showed that Christ also would suffer.
Such was the quality and strength of the man who accepted the end of this present life by shedding his blood after the long imprisonment. He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men; he was locked away in the darkness of prison, though he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be called a bright and shining lamp by that Light itself, which is Christ. John was baptized in his own blood, though he had been privileged to baptize the Redeemer of the world, to hear the voice of the Father above him, and to see the grace of the Holy Spirit descending upon him. But to endure temporal agonies for the sake of the truth was not a heavy burden for such men as John; rather it was easily borne and even desirable, for he knew eternal joy would be his reward.