The Prophet Elijah is one of the Old Testament prophets who lived in the first half of the 1X century B.C.The events of the Prophet’s life are described in the Third and Fourth Books of the Kings. (3 Book 17:1-19; 18; 21: 17-28; 4 Book 1: 3-17; 2: 1-18).The name of the prophet is translated as “God is My Lord”, which expresses the main idea of Elijah’s mission, who was zealously advocating the worship of the one God and proving His power with his deeds.
Elijah was born in Fesva city of Transjordan (Fesva city dweller of the people of Galaad), wore horsehair clothes with a leather belt.His prophetic service was in the Kingdom of Israel at the time of the rule of the Kings Ahab (874-853) and Ahaziah (853-852) who belonged to the Omri dynasty when in the northern kingdom the cult of Baal was spreading widely.
The depictions of the prophet Elijah are as popular as those of St.Nicholas the Wonderworker, St.George the Dragon-Slayer and St. and Glorious Demetrius of Thessalonica.The iconography of Elijah combines the symbolic elements which reflect his importance as a participant of the major events in the history of the divine administration.In the Christian art not only his personal images are represented but various scenes of his hagiography have been painted due to their importance and these scenes became the source of other subject matters.Elijah is often depicted with his tousled hair and a beard clothed in a hiton and mantle.
The most ancient depictions of the prophet Elijah-frescoes with his hagiography are in the Fool-Europos (Eastern Syria) and date back to the appearance of the second decoration. (249-250).The most ancient known icon depiction of the prophet Elijah was done in encaustic wax painting in the V11 century (the St Catherine’s monastery of Mount Sinai).The icon was the right fold of the triptych which is not preserved. Elijah is depicted grey-haired, his clothes are in gold hatching. His right hand is raised in a prophetic gesture, in his left lowered hand he holds an unfolded scroll.There are few one-image images of the prophet Elijah. One of the earliest is a big icon of the late Komnin period (1180-1200ies , the Byzantine museum, Kastoria) with the knee-length frontal depiction of Elijah against the blue background attired in a red hiton with a blue belt and a mantle, in his left hand he holds an unfolded scroll.The earliest image in the ancient monumental Russian art is in the painting of the Cathedral of St.Sophia in Kiev in the lower section on the south-west column under the cupola where the grey-haired Elijah is depicted full-length with a rolled scroll in his hand.Hagiographical icons in the monumental painting have been known since the XШ century.
Elijah has become one of the most venerated saints, which had an impact on the number of his depictions in the iconography. He was honoured as a protector of farmers.In the prophet tier of the iconostas there are diverse depictions of the prophet and inscriptions in his scroll.The earliest full-length depiction in the prophet tier of the Cathedral of St.Sophia in Novgorod is unique-Elijah holds a knife. (1509).
Later in the art of the XV1-XVП centuries the choice of waist-length or full-length depictions in the prophet tier was determined by the cathedral and iconostas dimensions.
The church honours the memory of the prophet Elijah on the 2nd August (20th July old style)