Saint Zacharias: The Iconography
FATHER OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
In Luke 1, the Jewish priest Zacharias goes into the Temple to offer at the altar of incense. There an angel announces to him that he and his wife will have a son who "shall be great before the Lord." Accordingly, portraits of Zacharias normally have him carrying a censer, as at right. They also give him gray hair and beard, because his response to the angel is a protest that "I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years."

Some images also give Zacharias the horned headpiece that signifies the office of high priest, although that is not what Luke says he was.

For narrative images of the angel's visitation and the saint's place in the birth and naming of his son, see the page for John the Baptist

Prepared in 2017 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University

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Statue of St. Zacharias in Le Puy-en-Velay, France: censer and gray beard. (See the description page.)


6th-century mosaic: gray hair and beard, censer, and a maquette of either the Temple or perhaps the Ark of the Covenant. (See the description page.)

DATES

  • Feast day: November 15
  • The Roman Martyrology does not list a feast day for St. Zacharias.

NAMES

  • Other common forms of the saint's name include Zechariah, Zachariah, and Zachary.

ALSO SEE