01 August 2013


The Obligatory Memorial of the Beheading of John the Baptist.

“The beheading of St. John the Baptist, who was put to death by Herod about the feast of Easter.  However, the solemn commemoration takes place today, when his venerable head was found for the second time.  It was afterwards solemnly carried to Rome, where it is kept in the church of St. Silvester, near Camp Marzio, and honored by the people with the greatest devotion.”

He was invoked against epilepsy and convulsions – known as Morbus sancti Johannis or le Mal de St. Jean – probably because of miraculous healings of those two maladies on the feast of his nativity in Sainte-Christophe church, Creteil (France). 

For today’s tea, I am having JOHNNYCAKE [yes, I know the name may be a local pronunciation of “journey cake”.  I don’t care.]

This one uses molasses, making it darker and sweeter than other forms of Johnnycake.

Heat the oven to 400° F.  Grease an 8-inch square pan.

Sift flour to make 1 cup.  Then sift together the (sifted) flour, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt.  To this mixture stir in 1 cup of yellow cornmeal.  Set aside.

In another bowl, lightly beat one egg.  Stir in ¼ cup of molasses and 1 cup of milk.  Blend thoroughly and stir it into the flour mixture.

Melt ¼ cup of shortening, and blend it into the batter.

Pour batter into greased pan and bake for about 25 minutes.

Those for whom this cake is not sweet enough might try a dusting of powdered sugar on top.  If you have or can make a cake stencil, it will make your johnnycake very festive indeed.
Ant: Among those born of woman none arose greater than John the Baptist.
V: He was a man sent by God.
R: Whose name was John. 
Show Thyself, we pray, O omnipotent God, so that Thy household may go by the way of salvation, and by following the encouragements of the blessed John, forerunner of Christ, may reach Him whom he with certainty foretold, our Lord Jesus Christ.
                        Early 16th century prayer found in the Hypertext Book of Hours
Artwork: “Saint John the Baptist” from the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, 15th c.  Morgan Library, New York.  Look very carefully and you can see that, under his mauve cloak, John is wearing a camel skin – the camel’s head and hooves are still attached.

“Beheading of Saint John the Baptist”, woodcut from The Golden Legend, 1489.