Who's this "St. Elias" guy after whom our Church is named anyways?
'Elias" is the Greek form of the Biblical name "Elijah". Hence, "St. Elias" is how we refer to the Holy Prophet, Elijah [the Tishbite]. (Fyi, "St. Eliseus" is the Greek form for the Holy Prophet, Elisha.)
The name "Elias" (in Hebrew: "Eliyahu") means: My God is Yhwh (the LORD). The Elijah cycle can be found in the Bible at I Kings 17:1 - 22:54 & II Kings 1:1 - 2:18.
Elijah is a particularly significant figure in Orthodox spirituality - hence many Churches and children are given his name: "ILYA" (the Slavonic form of "Elijah").
- his mysticism, e.g. holding intimate conversation with God, hearing God's voice in the gentle breeze;
- his asceticism, e.g.. being taken by God to live in the desert, eating only food brought by ravens;
- his prophesy, e.g. being commanded by God to denounce rulers for their injustice, their infidelity, and their oppression of the people;
- his orthodoxy, e.g. following the one true God and opposing the worship of other gods;
- his concern for the poor, the widow and orphan;
- his being taken up, deathless, into the heavens by God in the fiery chariot;
- his appearance with the Messiah at the holy Transfiguration (Matt 17:1-8).
O prophet Elias, O lampstand of the Church which has no evening,
you close up the rain from heaven;
you were fed by a raven;
you reproved the king and put the priests to death;
you commanded fire from heaven and slew two captains;
you provided abundantly for the widow
by means of a little oil and a small handful of meal;
you resurrected her son by your prayer;
you ignited the fire in water;
you crossed over the currents of the Jordan on foot.
Indeed, you were raised up to heaven by a fiery chariot.
You gave a two-fold grace to Elisha.
Pray unceasingly to God for the salvation of our souls.
(5th Stikh, Festal Vespers)
you humbled your body, O heavenly prophet Elias,
Thus, in your heart you prepared for your divine ascension.
You reproved the unjust actions of the king;
you took away the curse of God's anger;
and you destroyed the shameful priests with a sword.
You taught all to cry out: Truly Elias preaches the one true God.
(3d Stikh, Tone 4 Bulgarian, Litiya)
Elias, the awesome prophet, was heavenly in his actions.
He became indignant when he saw the unjust judgement of the infamous king.
Therefore, by God's judgement, Elias denounced him,
Likewise, he delivered to God's judgement the unmerciful queen who loved evil.
Now, O Christ, as the merciful one,
we ask You to save us by the prayers of Elias, your prophet.
"The glorious Elias,
angelic in body,
second herald of Christ,
by sending grace upon Eliseus
from on high,
dispels disease, cleanses lepers
and overflows with healing
for those who honour him."
(Tropar of St. Elias)