Since the early days of the Christian Church, saints have played a key role as intercessors between God and mankind. Saints serve as a source of protection, aid, and miraculous intervention. Today, new saints are recognized by the Church because they have demonstrated their Christian faith at the highest levels throughout their lives and have died in its cause.
Saint Elias, also known as Elijah, was a famous Israelite prophet born in Gilead in the eighth century B.C. The events of Elijah's life are related in the Bible, 1 Kings, chapters 17-19. Focal points, some of which are recounted in this article, demonstrate his unique role in biblical history.
His father saw angels around him as a child, dressing and feeding him with fire. When God appeared to Elijah it was in the form of fire similar to His appearance to Moses. Elijah performed miracles such as providing sustaining food during a time of limited resources to teh widow who gave him shelter. Her son later died, and Elijah brought him back to life. Elijah opposed King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, who had allowed the pagan temple of Baal to be built. This temple and its false prophets turned many people from God. Elias prayed to God to prevent rain from falling for three years to six months. He challenged the prophets of Baal to call down fire from their god. When they failed, he prayed to God and to kill the false prophets of Baal. Elijah then called down the rains. Elijah prophesied that dogs would lick up Ahab's blood and eat his wife Jezebel. His prohecies became reality. Like Moses, Elijah also talked with God on Sinai and parted the Jordan River with his mantel.
Elijah was taken up to heaven in fiery chariot. He is pictorially depicted in two different manners, either with a fiery chariot ascending into heaven or with a fiery sword killing the pagans and challenging the false prophets of Baal. Elijah is also mentioned in the New Testament at the Transfiguration of Jesus along with Moses, as depicted in the mural behind the altar at St. Elias.