Living in the Wilderness

edited December 1969 in Faith Issues
The Bible doesn't say what St. John the Baptist did from the day he was born until he started baptizing and preaching, but we know he lived and was raised by angels in the wilderness. I guess my question is, what does tradition or church fathers say that St. John did for 30 years in the wilderness? Was he a hermit who prayed all day?

He's the greatest born among women, yet we're only exposed to 6 months of his 30 years. I just wish I could learn more about him.


  • I was about to ask the same exact question! Great minds ;)
  • Does anyone have any references? I am also interested.  :)
  • There are gaps in the Life of Our Lord as they are related in the Gospels.
    There are "fill-ins" in the False Gospels.
    So it is not unreasonable that there is a gap in the representation of the Great St. John the Baptist.

    The Fathers identify him, through the ages, as the model of the ascetic life.

    The Synexarium is sparse also.
  • +
    "John was great in that he was the son of mountains, who was brought up in the life of abnegation and asceticism. He lived all his life in the deserts "till the day of his manifestation to Israel", growing and becoming "strong in spirit" (Luke 1:80). He lived as an ascetic and did not "drink neither wine nor strong drink" (Luke 1:15); he was "clothed with camel's hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey" (Mark 1:6). In the desert, he learned prayer and meditation, he learned courage and lack of fear, and also firmness and faith; and he learned the strength which comes from abnegation - God prepared him in the desert, as He prepared the Holy Virgin in the temple. He grew up courageous, not fearing any human being - fit for being the author of a mission. He told the truth in all strength, and did not care about what would be the consequences. King Herod sinned; and nobody had the courage to rebuke him or to confront him with truth, except John the Baptist. He was the only one who said to Herod: "It is not lawful for you to have her" (Matt. 14:4). The king threw him into prison, but he did not care. An ascetic like him who had relinquished everything, does not dread prison, even if his service is delayed. His thoughts during that were: "If God wills that he serves, then he will serve. And if God does not will, let His will be done. The important matter is to testify to the truth. And it happened that John the Baptist was beheaded. But this voice which cries aloud in the desert, remained sounding in Herod's ear, disturbing his conscience, his thoughts, his sleep, his wakefulness, and saying to him at every moment: "It is not lawful for you".
    - The Epiphany and St. John the Baptist, H.H. Pope Shenouda III

    Just as the desert is one of the deepest places to hear God's still and precious voice, so it was with Saint John the Baptist. When a person spends undivided time with God, as John the Baptist did for most (if not all) of his life, one is filled with God... His hidden wisdom... His attributes... that He freely gives (to our capacity, we being limited.. for "the heaven of heavens will not be sufficient for God"). Just as when we spend time with a person, some of their personality traits develop in us... how much more precious is that with our Lord and Saviour.
  • that was really lovely, thanks.
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