On this day the upright and righteous St. Elizabeth, mother of St. John the Baptist, departed. This holy woman was born in Jerusalem to a righteous father called Matthan from the tribe of Levi and from the house of Aaron the priest. Her mother's name was Sofia.
Matthan had three daughters. The first was called Mary, the mother of Salome, the midwife who cared for the Virgin St. Mary during her virginal birth. The name of the second daughter was Sofia, the mother of St. Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist. The youngest daughter was St. Hannah, the mother of the Virgin St. Mary, the mother of the Savior. Therefore, Salome, Elizabeth and the Virgin St. Mary were cousins.
When St. Zacharias the priest married St. Elizabeth, they lived in righteousness and holiness before God, as the evangelist said, "They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." (Luke 1:6)
This upright woman was barren. She and her husband continually supplicated God who gave them St. John the Baptist. God was slow in answering their prayers until the time when the Virgin Mary conceived with the Word of God. When they were stricken in age, God sent His angel Gabriel to Zacharias to announce to him, "Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John," (Luke 1:13) and the angel told him what would become of St. John.
The Virgin St. Mary visited St. Elizabeth to congratulate her on her pregnancy. "And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit." (Luke 1:41) When she gave birth to St. John, the shame of her barrenness was lifted up from her and her people. When she completed her days in purity, righteousness and chastity, she departed in peace.
Her intercession be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.