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June 24


Saint of the day:
The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Nativity means Birth

Patron Saint of Baptism


Saint John the Baptist’s Story

Jesus called John the greatest of all those who had preceded him: “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John….” But John would have agreed completely with what Jesus added: “[Y]et the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28).

John spent his time in the desert, an ascetic. He began to announce the coming of the Kingdom, and to call everyone to a fundamental reformation of life. His purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. His baptism, he said, was for repentance. But one would come who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. John was not worthy even to untie his sandals. His attitude toward Jesus was: “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30).

John was humbled to find among the crowd of sinners who came to be baptized the one whom he already knew to be the Messiah. “I need to be baptized by you” (Matthew 3:14b). But Jesus insisted, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15b). Jesus, true and humble human as well as eternal God, was eager to do what was required of any good Jew. Jesus thus publicly entered the community of those awaiting the Messiah. But making himself part of that community, he made it truly messianic.

The greatness of John, his pivotal place in the history of salvation, is seen in the great emphasis Luke gives to the announcement of his birth and the event itself—both made prominently parallel to the same occurrences in the life of Jesus. John attracted countless people to the banks of the Jordan, and it occurred to some people that he might be the Messiah. But he constantly deferred to Jesus, even to sending away some of his followers to become the first disciples of Jesus.

Perhaps John’s idea of the coming of the Kingdom of God was not being perfectly fulfilled in the public ministry of Jesus. For whatever reason, when he was in prison he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah. Jesus’ answer showed that the Messiah was to be a figure like that of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah. John himself would share in the pattern of messianic suffering, losing his life to the revenge of Herodias.







Ein Karem, Jerusalem



Old Testament         


Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters… (Life is of Spirit & Water).

Genesis 5:32-10:1 Noah and the Flood

Exodus 14 The Red Sea Crossing


New Testament (Eternal Life is of Spirit & Water)
1 Corinthians 10 1-4 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.


John 3:5 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 

Luke 3: 21-22 21  …Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came from heaven: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well pleased.”

John 1 29-34 29 … John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!...  He should be revealed to Israel, therefore, I came baptizing with water.” 32 … “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. …


(More verses for reference:)

Mark 16:16… Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved…

Romans 6 1-11 … don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Titus 3:5 ... He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…
Acts 2: 38 Peter said …, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit..
1 Peter 3:21 … baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…


He Baptized Jesus


Jesus called John the greatest of all those who had preceded him: “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John….” (Luke 7:28). John spent his time in the desert, as an ascetic. Meaning he was alone living in seclusion from the world, living a religious life of prayer, fasting, and doing manual labor. His purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. Matthew 3:11-12 John states respectfully 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.…John’s humble attitude toward Jesus was: “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30). John also says in Matthew 3:14 …“I have the need to be baptized by You, and yet You are coming to me?” Matthew 3:15 (NIV) Jesus says… “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. John always deferred people to Jesus, even sending away some of his followers to become the first disciples of Jesus. Jesus’ act of being baptized by John was truly messianic (denoting the divinity of Jesus and he was there to change the world). Jesus showed he was a humble human as well as an everlasting God. Jesus showed he was eager to do what was required of any good Jew, by publicly entering the community of those awaiting the Messiah. Mark 16:16 “…he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved! What more could mankind ask for than a leader doing what he preaches. We see this here and we also see it during the Easter Celebration of the Last Supper when Jesus washes the feet of his disciples in John 13:1–17.



Italy: Sagra di San Giovanni (the Festival of Saint John) is the oldest historic event on Lake Como, Italy. At night hundreds of tiny lamps float on the lake and in the heavens above there's a big firework’s display. The following morning brings a boat parade with traditional boats decorated with flowers followed by folk dancing and flag throwing competitions.


In Fabriano, Italy the Saint John’s festival celebrate with a beautiful infiorata, tapestries made of flower petals! Events at this festival include traditional medieval competitions with participants dressed in period costume, flag throwing performances, crafts and food stands. 


Portugal: On the night of June 23 and on day of the 24th, Saint John is celebrated as the patron saint of Porto, the second largest city in Portugal. Porto's Festa de São João is one of Europe's liveliest street festivals.



Italy (Florence)

  • Sagra di San Giovanni is the oldest historic event on Lake Como. Hundreds of tiny lamps float in the lake and there's a big fireworks display the evening. The following morning brings a boat parade with traditional boats decorated with flowers followed by folk dancing and flag throwing competitions. Events are held the weekend closest to Saint John's Day.

  • San Giovanni Feast Day is celebrated in Florence the Sunday following June 24 with a medieval tournament followed by music, drinking, and feasting. In the evening on the Arno River, there is a palio of rowboats carrying lit candles followed by fireworks.

  • Palio di San Giovanni is a 4-day event in Fabriano, in central Italy's Marche region, culminating on June 24 with a beautiful infiorata, tapestries made of flower petals. Events include traditional medieval competitions with participants dressed in period costume, flag throwing performances, and crafts and food stands. 


The night before the birth of Saint John the Baptist is considered one full of blessings, and propitiatory and purifying rites are celebrated.  The blessing is linked to the summer solstice which marks the beginning of the new summer, but according to the legend it's necessary to make the right rites to avoid and to ward off adversities! 


Propitiatory bonfires are made that represent the sun and Saint John's water is prepared to collect the dew, or the dew of God, which symbolizes the moon. 


The water of San Giovanni or Saint John brings luck and prosperity thanks to the incredible power of the flowers and would be able to protect crops and warding off calamities. The legend says that the water of Saint John would bring luck and prosperity thanks to the incredible power of the flowers and would be able to protect crops and warding off calamities. This blessed water also possesses protective healing virtues and it brings health, luck, and love!


To prepare the blessed water:

Collect mixed herbs and wild flowers such as the flowers of hypericum, lavender, mugwort,  mallow flowers, and leaves of mint, rosemary, sage,   basil, thyme, cornflowers, poppies, rose petal, chamomile, brooms flowers, also leaves of Mary's wort, elderberries, amaranth, walnut, fennel and oats. ••••• Of course according to the blooms present in your territory and respecting nature take only the herbs and flowers you need and without uprooting the roots.

AFTER SUNSET Place the collected herbs and flowers into a bowl of water, say the Lord's prayer and the Hail Mary prayer and leave outside for the entire night so that the mixture can absorb the morning dew. Once the mixture of herbs has collected the dew it will have acquired the blessing from God. On the morning of June 24th, which is the celebration day of Saint John, the water of San Giovanni  is used to wash one's hands and face in a sort of propitiatory and purification ritual that will bring love, luck, and health. ENJOY!

Saint John’s Wort was carried in one's pocket and it would protect one from thunder. Smelling the leaves or drinking a mixture made from the plant would cure you of madness. In Medieval times, it was hung over doors, windows and religious icons to keep evil spirits away. 



Rome, Italy

The night before Saint John's day it is called the night of the witches!  Indeed until the end of the 19th century on the 24th June one of the main religious holidays was Saint John’s Day. Saint John is also the patron Saint of Rome! This holiday begins the night before on the night of the witches.


According to a LEGEND, WITCHES were summoned to the Lateran meadows by the ghosts of HERODIAS and her daughter SALOME. They were damned for causing the beheading of Saint John. They would go around the city to capture souls so it was essential to resort to prayer, rituals and all kind of rites. One tradition was blessing one's bed and the front doors. The towns people would also walk about Rome holding lanterns and torch light so when they arrived at the main square they could lit bonfires to drive away the bad forces. They prayed and ate snails for protection as well.

Some families would even bring snails from home in a a huge saucepan full of snails with sauce. According to the legend eating snails with horns or tentacles represented discord and distress was equivalent to defeating adversity. 

Tradition also states that Saint John’s dew has healing powers while according to another legend,  if you don’t not buy garlic on Saint John's Day you will be poor all year round! During the night, the Tiber baths,  were also opened to the public and the inhabitants of the city could bathe in the FOUNTAIN OF SAN GIOVANNI it was believed that during the day of his feast the Saint would give more miracles than the rest of the year!!!! The people used to turn out in droves eating, drinking,  and celebrating with their horns, trumpets, bells, tambourines, and firecrackers so as to scare and ward off the bad spirits. The feast drew to a close when the Pope arrived at San Giovanni in Laterano to celebrate mass after which he threw from the cathedral’s loggia gold and silver coins to delight the wild crowds below!!!! Today the ancient traditional feast of Saint John has lost all of its early legendary background even though recently it's been revived some events thanks to the few historical organizations!


According to the folklore evil spirits would appear on the summer solstice! To ward off evil spirits people would wear protective garlands of herbs and flowers. One of the most powerful of these plants was known as chase devil, today it’s called Saint John’s Wort! Because of its association with Saint John’s Day, the scientific name is Hypericum perforatum. One last summer solstice traditions hold that the ashes from a midsummer bonfire, when spread across one’s garden, will bring a beautiful harvest, ENJOY!

In Spain

Sain. John’s wort was also considered a special plant on this day because its bright yellow flowers looked like the sun, which was a significant coincidence around the longest day of the year. The flowers have five petals and long stamens that look like the rays of the sun. The stamens are topped with little golden balls of pollen giving the appearance that each flower is a sunburst. Also, it is said that the flowers are heliotropic, following the sun from east to west as it crosses the sky, which was considered a supernatural phenomenon in olden days. 


Saint John’s Eve is celebrated with bonfires and is marked with the gathering of the herbs of midsummer. In some Spanish villages, special bouquets called herbas de San Xoán are made up and sold for this day.

In northern Spain’s Galicia, it is the custom for women to place Saint. John’s wort and other herbs in a bowl of water after sunset on Saint John’s Eve. The bowl must be left outside all evening so that dew can collect, adding its special elements to the water.


According to Lithuanian custom, the dew on Midsummer Day was said to make young girls beautiful and old people look younger. On Saint John’s Day, women splash the scented infusion on their face and let it dry. It is said the infusion will stop all wrinkles. The Spanish says that it won’t cure existing wrinkles but it will prevent future ones. Who knows if it works, but the women in the north of Spain, in Galicia are amazingly beautiful!

flwoer water.jpg


Also, on the night of June 23 and on day of the 24th, Saint John is celebrated as the patron saint of Porto, the second largest city in Portugal. Porto's Festa de São João is one of Europe's liveliest street festivals.






In Florence, on this day, it is also the day when unripe green walnuts (noci) are gathered
for making nocino, a complex, nutty, and slightly bitter dark-brown liqueur.
So, today we are making an amazing Walnut Chicken Nuggets which can
be baptized in honey mustard sauce! So, fun and so yummy!


Walnut Crusted Baked Chicken Nuggets

Ingredients Walnut Crusted Baked Chicken Nuggets

  • 1-1/2 cup walnuts (milled, superfine)

  • 1-1/2 cup bread crumbs (mixed with the nuts)

  • ½ pound chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

Honey Mustard Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons mustard

  • 2 tablespoons honey


  1. Preheat oven to 450'F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray the paper.

  2. Place the walnuts in a food processor and pulse until finely super minced. The pieces should be small enough that they will easily stick to the chicken, similar in size to panko breadcrumbs. Set aside.

  3. Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes, as even in size as possible to ensure even cooking.

  4. Set up dredging station using shallow dishes (like pie plates) side by side. Combine flour, seasoned salt, garlic powder and pepper in one dish. In a second dish, whisk the eggs with melted butter. Mix the bread crumbs with the chopped walnuts in a third dish.

  5. Dredge one chicken cube through the flour, then the egg and finally the walnuts/bread crumb mixture, pressing lightly to adhere to the chicken. Carefully arrange each piece of chicken on the prepared baking rack, placing smaller pieces towards the center. Repeat until all chicken pieces are coated.

  6. Bake in the preheated oven until the exterior is golden and crispy and the chicken is fully cooked; about 8-10 minutes or the chicken’s temperature reaches 165’F.

  7. Cool slightly on the baking rack before transferring to a platter to serve.

  8. To make the honey mustard dipping sauce, combine the ingredients until well mixed. Serve in a small bowl for dipping.

Persimmon, Blood Orange, and Pomegranate Salad


  • 1 pomegranate

  • 2 large ripe persimmons, mangoes, or papayas

  • 5 cups spring salad mix, arugula, baby arugula

  • 6 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions (3)

  • 4 medium blood and/or navel oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

Vinaigrette (mix all the below items together, shake well)

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • ½ teaspoon chopped thyme

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil 

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Cut the pomegranate in half cover with a paper towel, over a bowl, smack the back of the fruit with a wooden spoon. Remove the paper towel and release the seeds. Smack the fruit more if needed. Discard peel and membrane. Drain the seeds; set aside.

  2. Cut each persimmon in half; remove core. Slice into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices.

  3. In a large bowl combine spring mix and green onions. Drizzle the Vinaigrette over spring mix; toss to coat.

  4. To serve, arrange mesclun mixture a salad plate. Arrange persimmons and oranges on top of greens, tucking a few in and under leaves. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.



Saint John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci

The pointing gesture of Saint John toward the heavens suggests the importance of salvation through baptism.

IMG_4737 3.JPG


Extra Walnut Recipes

June 24 is the Feast Day of San Giovanni (St. John the Baptist), the patron saint of Florence, and traditionally it's also the day when unripe green walnuts (noci) are gathered for making nocino, a complex, nutty, and slightly bitter dark-brown liqueur.

Walnut Dream / Plaisir Aux Noix Pastry

Plaisir Aux Noix / Walnut Dream 
Le Plaisir aux noix is a creation of Gaston Lenôtre. He was a French pastry chef known
as a possible creator of the opera cake, the founder of "Lenôtre" a culinary empire…
The original plaisir aux noix filling is based on crème Anglaise buttercream lightened
with some Italian meringue. It can also be achieved using mousseline cream.
This version is based on creme diplomate; easier to execute, lower in fat and sugar.

Serves 8 +

Walnut praliné

  • 230g walnut halves, chopped

  • 150g powdered sugar


  1. Toss walnuts in sugar and cook to caramel; stirring constantly.

  2. Cool.

  3. In a running food processor, blend caramelized walnuts to fine coarse and save 2.7 ounces (80g) for the succes biscuit.

  4. Continue to blend the remaining mixture until it forms a paste (praliné). Set aside.

Crème Diplômate (Walnut Diplomate Custard)

  • 300ml milk

  • 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla paste or extract

  • 4 ea. yolks (80g), save egg whites for the succes biscuit

  • 2 ounces (60g) brown sugar

  • 1.5 Tbsp (20g) corn starch

  • 6 grams gelatin sheets, softened in cold water

  • 7 ounces (220g) mascarpone

  • 10 ounces (300g) walnut praliné

  • 1 Tbsp (15ml) rubby Port or walnut wine (vin de noix)

  • 2/3 cup (170g) whipped cream


  1. Heat up milk and vanilla.

  2. Meanwhile, beat yolks, sugar and starch.

  3. When milk is boiling, turn the heat off – temper yolk-mixture with one-third of the hot milk.

  4. Add yolk-mixture into remaining hot milk – bring to boil and cook for 2 minutes; whisking constantly.

  5. Turn off heat, mix in the softened gelatin and mascarpone.

  6. Transfer onto baking tray lined with plastic wrap; film in contact – cool and chill completely.

  7. Beat chilled custard on high speed, add walnut praliné, port and the whipped cream. Set aside.

Succès Biscuit (Macaron)

  • 4 ea. (120g) egg whites, at room temp

  • 1/2 tsp (1g) cream of tartar or a few drops of lemon juice (it stabilizes the meringue)

  • 4 ounces (120g) fine white sugar

  • 2.6 ounces (80g) almond meal


  • 1.3 ounces (40g) almond meal

  • 1.3 ounces (40g) walnut meal

  • 2.7 ounces (80g) powdered sugar

  • 2 Tbsp (30ml) milk.

  • 2.7 ounces (80g) caramelized walnut meal.

  • A couple tablespoons of toasted sliced almonds (toast them quickly in a frying pan).


  1. In a food processor, blend almond meal and powdered sugar to combine and add milk.

  2. For the meringue, beat to stiff peaks: egg whites with cream of tartar and one-third of the fine white sugar –

  3. Fold one-third of the meringue into the almond-sugar mixture. Add remaining meringue and the previoulsy saved caramelized walnut meal.

  4. Turn oven on. On a baking tray lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper, pipe out two 8 -inch (20cm) diameter disk using the #808 pastry tip (one penny /16mlmØ). Make 2 extra smaller disks with remaining mixture if so.


  1. Bake succes biscuit at 260ºF (130ºC) for 1 hour and 10 min.

  2. Turn oven off and leave succes to dry out for 20 to 30 minutes more. It should be firm to the touch.


  1. Place a succes biscuit (flat side down), pipe out 12 large dollops of walnut diplomate cream from the edge of the succes and fill up the center.

  2. Coat the surface of the second succes biscuit (flat side up) with a thin layer of filling and top with toasted sliced almonds.

  3. Place it on top of the cake like a sandwich and refrigerate it for 6 hours before eating (best overnight).

  4. Dust with powdered sugar or snow sugar (it wont melt).

  5. Walnut dream cake can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or kept frozen for up to 3 months. Bon appétit!

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