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May 16, 2021

Saint Elijah, the patron of aviators, celebrated by Orthodox Christians

Orthodox Christians celebrated yesterday the feast of Saint Elijah, considered, as of 1913, the protector and patron saint of aviators. Priests account for this by “the way he was taken to the Lord, carried to heaven in a chariot of fire”. The prophet Elijah is considered one of the most important saints by the Christians. Owing to the holy and rough life he led in the desert of Jordan, as well as to his eagerness to please God, Christian monks see him as one of their fathers, akin to Saint John the Baptist.

In Russia and in Romania, the prophet Elijah is associated with weather phenomena. During rain or thunder, folk legends claim Elijah is riding in the skies in his chariot of fire and he is believed to have the power to stop or bring about rain. The day of July 20 is also called “Santilie” (Saintelijah). In the folk calendar, it marks the pastoral midsummer, when shepherds part sheep, and the famous Nedei and Santilii are held on mountain tops. Lightning and thunders during storms occurring at this time of the year are associated with the folk belief that Saint Elijah strikes devils and their hiding places. In Judaism, the prophet Elijah is believed to be the helper of those facing predicaments, a benefactor of the poor and a friend of the humble. This perception is supported by his deeds, such as, the miracle of multiplying the oil and flour of the widow of Zarephath, whose son he brought back to life.

Over 127,000 Romanians celebrated their name-day on the feast of Saint Elijah, of whom almost 114,000 are men, and 14,000 women, the Ministry of Administration and Internal Affairs informs.

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