Saint Elijah

Saint Elijah (Sviatyi Illia). Old Testament prophet of the 9th century BC whose feast is celebrated on 2 August (20 July OS). He was particularly popular among Ukrainians, and in folk mythology took on certain roles of Perun, the ancient god of thunder. This association was reinforced by his feast day, commonly known as ‘the thundering feast day’ (hromove sviato), which falls in a period often marked by summer storms. Folk legend attributed such unsettled conditions to God's having asked Elijah to clear the heavens of demons who had risen up against him: since that time Elijah could still be heard doing his work using thunder and lightning. The feast day also marked the beginning of the harvesting season. Ukrainian iconography commonly depicted Saint Elijah, according to the biblical account, ascending directly to heaven in a fiery chariot.

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