Feast of the Prophet Elias

July 20

Elias was one of the greatest and most remarkable prophets of the old Testament. Of his origin, not much is known, except that he was a Thesbite. He appeared on the historical scene during the reign of Achab (9 cent. B.C.). He delivered to that impious king the message of Yahweh: Israel would be punished by a long drought and Achab’s house would fall. He then lived to see the tragic end of Achab. Next we hear of Elias in connection with Ochozias, Achab’s son and successor, to whom, he predicted the injuries in a fall would be fatal. The end of the earthly life of Elias came mysteriously. As he was conversing with Eliseus on the hills of Moah, “a fiery chariot, and fiery horses parted them both asunder, and Elias went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (kgs. 2:11) Jews, Christians and Moslems pay high honor to Elias; Carmelite monks cherish the belief that their order was in some sense founded by him. Together, with Moses, he appeared at Christ’s Transfiguration.

The veneration of Elias dates back to apostolic times. In the fourth Century, the feast was already generally known. St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, and St. Augustine have testified to his greatness, a fact which alone would prove the antiquity of this feast.

In her Liturgy, the Church calls the prophet Elias a “pillar of the prophets and the second forerunner of the coming of Christ (troparion). The Kontakion praises him as the one “who foresaw the mighty acts of God.” During matins, one stichera declares “Let us believers honor with praises the chief of the prophets, those two radiant luminaries of the universe, Elias and Eliseus. Let us lift our voices unto Christ with rejoicing, saying: by the intercessions of Your two prophets, O compassionate Lord, grant your people forgiveness of sins and Your great mercy.”

–Basil Shereghy

Next Feast Day

 June 29 Feasts of Saints Peter and Paul
 July 20 Feast of the Prophet Elias
 August 6 Transfiguration of our Lord
 August 15 Dormition (Assumption) of the Mother of God