Elijah the Prophet was “a man just like us” (James 5:17), but don’t we wish we all had his faith! He stood up firmly against the powers of his day, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel and their minions, the prophets of the Canaanite gods Baal and Asherah. Elijah brought everyone to Mount Carmel where he challenged the Canaanite prophets to see who could bring down fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:17-46). When you visit Mount Carmel today, near the monastery dedicated to Elijah, you can see rocks that seem to have been blackened by fire. It’s exciting to stand at the top of the mountain, as Elijah once did, and see the Mediterranean, toward which Elijah sent his servant after the contest to see if the clouds, that would signal the end of the terrible drought, were forming. The servant finally reported that he saw one tiny cloud. In Catholic tradition, that cloud is a foreshadowing of Mary.
One of Mary’s appellations is Stella Maris (“star of the sea”) and another place to “meet” Elijah is at the Stella Maris Monastery in Haifa. Its dome depicts scenes from Elijah’s life and it is built around a cave where Elijah traditionally lived.
Elijah, is also the forerunner of the Messiah (Matthew 17:10-11). For this reason, many people thought that John the Baptist was Elijah (Mark 6:15). Elijah rose to heaven in a fiery chariot over the mountains of Moab across the Jordan Valley, becoming a symbol of eternal life and hope.