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life linked christ fire

The life and deeds of Elijah, an important Hebrew *prophet who lived in the ninth century B.C. , are described in the books of Kings. Numerous visions, *miracles, and spectacular events characterize his life; he was fed by ravens in the wilderness; he brought the widow of Zarephath’s son back to life; he predicted a great drought; he called down sacrificial fire from *heaven during a contest with the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel; an *angel brought him food and drink during another sojourn in the desert, and he concluded his dramatic life by being swept up to the heavens in a chariot of fire. He is mentioned several times in the New Testament as well, and he appears at the *Transfiguration of *Christ. Traditionally envisioned as a rather wild and unkempt figure, he prefigures Saint *John the Baptist. Events in his life also prefigure episodes in the life of Christ; the angel who visited Elijah in the desert is linked with the angelic visitor to Jesus in the *Agony in the Garden; Elijah’s raising of the widow’s son is linked with Jesus’ *Raising of Lazarus (and others); Elijah’s fire from the heavens is linked with the descent of the *Holy Spirit at *Pentecost, and his translation to heaven in the fiery chariot is linked with the *Ascension of Christ. The latter, especially popular scene appears very early in Christian art (e.g., in catacomb paintings, sarcophagi, and other sculpture) also symbolizing the *Resurrection of Christ. Elijah was very popular in Byzantine as well as western medieval art and is considered by the Carmelites to be the founder and patron of the Carmelite Order.
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