John the Baptist - without original sin?


Each evening this year, I have been reading the daily “Lives of the Saints” from a 1956 “Saint Joseph Catholic Manual,” imprimatur Francis Cardinal Spellman, which was left to me by a great-aunt. Today (June 24), the “Nativity of St. John the Baptist” had a statement which frankly caught me by surprise: “While the feast of other saints is celebrated on the day of their death, when their final victory is won, the birthday of St. John the Baptist is his feast day, as he was born free from original sin.” (emphasis mine)

I can’t say I have ever heard that any mortal was born (as opposed to Adam and Eve, who were created) without the stain of original sin, except the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Is this, in fact, the Church’s teaching that John the Baptist was free from original sin?

Thank you in advance for sharing your knowledge!


Wait . . . I think I’ve got it. Mary was CONCEIVED without sin, but John was BORN without sin because he was “baptized by the Holy Spirit” – and therefore the stain of original sin was removed – when Mary visited Elizabeth and he leapt within her womb.

Right? :slight_smile:

Now I can sleep . . .


John was sanctified in the womb of Elizabeth.

I wonder if you can baptize your unborn in the mother’s womb? He is surrounded with Water?


This understanding concerning John the Baptist comes from the gospel of Luke. Luke 1:15 says in part:

“and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.”

Most non-Catholic Christian believe that John was “saved” at this point in time.


Only if you are visited by Mary carrying Jesus in her womb. :wink:


It is a strong tradition [small “t”] and has good support, but I don’t think the Church has made a definitive declaration on this.




You’re correct. And given it’s liturgical acceptance, I would place it as part of Tradition with a “T” rather than tradition with a “t”.


Indeed, Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.


Let’s really confuse everyone and point out that the Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox Churches celebrate the Conception of John the Baptist as well on 23 September.


As for John the Baptist, he was born (NOT conceived) without Original Sin so that he would have the authority to Baptize and to preach repentance for Judaism in expectation of the Messiah’s appearance. If all of Judaism has accepted his Baptism of Repentance (the ultimate mikveh --a return to fidelity to the Law), then they would have been prepared to receive the Messiah in holiness, and the Cross may not have been needed. God, however, knew that it would be necessary. But, the open invitation was there, and it was very real. Thus, John the Baptist was the real deal; that is, he was perfectly suited to preach holiness and perfection to the Jews, since he himself was holy and perfect (a sinless human being like Elijiah before him).


:eek: I have never ever heard of this at all.I think my parents would be totally shocked by this statement. Neither they nor the Brigidine Sisters who taught me catechism ever made such a statement about St.John the Baptist,and both my parents went to Catholic School,back in the 1920s and 30s,and they never ever said the nuns taught such a thing. By rights then, St.Joseph,the human father of Jesus should have been born without sin,since he was to take care of Mary and Jesus,and raise Jesus as his own and teach him a trade.And Sts…Joachim and Anne ,parents of Our Lady should have been born without sin, since they were the parents of she who was to carry the Saviour in her body for 9 months,adnaseum.
I don’t know where in the world these people come up with this dubious theology.I will reread the bible,but this is not scripture
and i think St.John himself would reject this idea completely.
It seems like more and more dubious theological ideas and devotions are appearing every day.
And it is just such ideas that cause protestants to think we Catholics are off the wall in some areas.That’s like Mary as Co-Redemptrix.No,Jesus and Jesus alone is Our Redeemer,HIS BLOOD was shed on the cross to save us from sin and bring us to everlasting life,not Mary’s,John the Baptist or anyone else,just JESUS.
Mary suffered yes at the crucifixtion,but hers to me was the suffering and sorrow of any mother at seeing her child die,and being helpless to do anything about,.However,she knew that this was the will of the Heavenly Father and Jesus must take this journey on His own.And I’m sure that the Holy Spirit comforted her at this time.
When I hear and read such things i get upset, because it doesnot gib with what the good sisters taught me.I never ever heard such things coming out of the mouth of my great aunt, Sister Mary Generose,who was a School Sister of Notre Dame for 60 years.
I don’t even recall St.Augustine or anyone making this statement.


From The Catholic Encyclopedia:
“Now as the presence of any sin whatever is incompatible with the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the soul, it follows that at this moment John was cleansed from the stain of original sin.”


Please note that the OP (that would be me) listed the source of this statement as

. . . the daily “Lives of the Saints” from a 1956 “Saint Joseph Catholic Manual,” imprimatur Francis Cardinal Spellman, . . .

Which would, of course, been probably when the good sisters were teaching you (and we are likely of the same generation). Not exactly some New Age thought . . .


:eek: Nope,i never recall the sisters saying this at all.Don’t recall them teaching this.About Our Lady being concieved without sin,yes,because she was going to be the mother of Our Lord,but only about Mary.Learn something new everyday.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit