Icon: Fiery Ascension of the Prophet Elija | S-16
Origin Central Russia
Period : 17th century
Size : 31.8 x 27.5 cm
Private Collection, Germany

In the upper centre Elijah ascends to heaven in a bright red cloud, seated in a chariot of fire drawn by winged horses. An angel escorts the cloud and is holding the reins of the horses. To the far right, the prophet Elisha stretches out his hands to catch Elijah’s mantle. The transfer of the mantle to Elisha is seen as symbolising the transfer of Elijah’s prophetic and spiritual power. To the left, Elisha leans forward and beats his miraculous mantle on the waters of the river Jordan. In the lower left corner, an angel is waking up Elijah, who is fallen asleep in despair. To the upper left, Elijah sits in a cave and looks up at a raven bringing him bread.

Veneration of Elijah was widespread in Northern Russia. The prophet was popularly believed to send rain and protect against fire. In this respect there is a striking correlation between Elijah and Perun, the Slavic pagan god of weather who performed the same function in pre-Christian Russia.