The Gospels tell us of the birth, ministry, and death of John the Baptist. However, all four of the writers remain silent on John’s youth and adolescence, since those years are not directly relevant to the Gospel message.
However, certain private revelations to a holy Spanish nun have given us insight into John’s early life.
In the 17th century, the Franciscan nun Venerable Maria de Jesus de Ágreda wrote of several mystical visits that the Blessed Mother paid to her. In these visits, she told Maria Ágreda about her life. The Blessed Mother’s narrative encompassed several Biblical names, including John the Baptist.
After the Holy Family received word of Herod’s plan to murder the children of Bethlehem, the Blessed Mother sent an angel to her cousin Elizabeth, warning her to flee with John into safety.
Elizabeth took her son—who was less than a year old—into the desert. Maria Ágreda writes:
“For on account of the warning of the angel, and knowing of the cruel disposition of Herod, [Elizabeth] had resolved to flee to the desert with her child and live there in the company of wild beasts rather than within the dangerous reach of Herod.”
John was only four years old when Elizabeth passed away. God looked after His greatest prophet, however, and so did His Mother:
“[The Blessed Mother] sent to him every day his sustenance, until he was of sufficient age to provide for his living by his own labors and exertions in gathering herbs, roots, and woodland honey.” —Ven. Maria de Ágreda
John lived alone in the desert until he was about thirty, when the Gospels introduce him in his role of Precursor and witness to the Light. All those years, John evaded the ravenous desert beasts, scratched the barest living from the earth, and saw no human face—but God was always with him. It’s no wonder he caused a stir in Jerusalem!
Enrich your contemplation of the Gospels with The Life of Mary as Seen by the Mystics, a compilation of the visions of Ven. Maria de Ágreda, Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, and others concerning the events of Our Lady’s life. Beginning with her holy parents and following her life up through the Assumption and Crowning, this compilation is sure to bring you closer to Our Blessed Mother and deepen your love for her. Available today at The Catholic Company!