"Today, the Church celebrates the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist. John, whose birth we celebrate on the twenty-fourth of June, gave himself totally to Christ, by preparing the way for him through the preaching of repentance, by leading others to him once he arrived, and by giving the ultimate sacrifice.”
The pope also spoke about a fragmented piece of St. John's head that is kept as a relic in the Church of Saint Sylvester in Rome.
"In the Roman Martyrology, reference is made to a second finding of the precious relic, transported, on this occasion, in the church of San Silvestro in Rome. These little historical references help us to understand how how and deeply St. John the Baptist is venerated.”
After the audience, the pope went inside the palace where 2,600 acolytes had traveled from France to greet him.