Collection: St. Elias the Prophet

ARTIST: Br. Robert Lentz, OFM


"Then the prophet Elias arose like a fire,
and his word burned like a torch.
He brought famine upon them,
and by his zeal he made them few in number.
By the word of the Lord he shut up the heavens,
and also three times brought down fire.
How glorious you were, O Elias, in your wondrous deeds!
And who has the right to boast which you have?
You who were taken up in a whirlwind of fire,
in a chariot with horses of fire…"
(Sirach 48: 1-4, 9)

His feast day is July 20.

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Prophet Elias"the God-seer, miracle-worker and zealot for faith in God"was born of the tribe of Aaron in the town of Tishba, for which he was called the Tishbite. When Elias was born, his father Sabbas saw angels of God hovering around the child, wrapping the child in fire and feeding him flames. That was a foreshadowing of Elias's fiery character and his God-given fiery power. He spent his entire youth in divine contemplation and prayer, withdrawing frequently into the wilderness to contemplate and pray in tranquility.

At that time the Jewish kingdom was divided into two unequal parts: the kingdom of Judah consisting of only two tribes"the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with their capital in Jerusalem; and the kingdom of Israel consisting of the remaining ten tribes, with their capital in Samaria. The former was governed by the descendants of Solomon, and the latter was governed by the descendants of Jeroboam, a servant of Solomon.

The greatest confrontation that the prophet Elias had was with the Israelite King Ahab and his evil wife Jezebel for they worshiped idols and were turning the people away from serving the One Living God. In addition Jezebel, a Syrian, persuaded her husband to erect a temple to the Syrian god Baal and appointed many priests to the service of this false god.

Through great miracles Elias displayed the power and authority of God. He closed up the heavens, so that there was no rain for three years and six months; he called fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifice to God, which the pagan priests were unable to do for the false god, Baal; he brought rain by his prayer; he miraculously multiplied flour and oil in the home of the widow at Zarephath, and resurrected her son; he prophesied to Ahab that the dogs would lick up his blood, and to Jezebel that the dogs would consume her flesh"all of which came to pass; and he performed many other miracles, and prophesied other events as well. He spoke with God, and heard the voice of God in the calm after the wind, earthquake and fire on Mount Horeb.

Before his death, he designated Elisha as his successor in the prophetic calling; and, with his mantle, he divided the waters of the Jordan. Finally, he was taken up into the heavens in a fiery chariot drawn by fiery horses. On Mount Tabor he appeared together with Moses beside our Lord Jesus Christ. At the end of the world, Elias will appear again, to put an end to the power of Antichrist.
(Revelation 11)