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St. Prophet Ilia (Ilinden)

St. Ilia is a Judaic prophet and a wandering hermit, who lived in the time of the Israeli king of Ahav and queen Iesavel. They worshipped the pagan god Vaal. St. Ilia predicted horrible drought would befall the lands of the pagan king, which would be God’s way of punishing him for his sins. His prophecy came true and the Israeli people were tortured by drought for three and a half years. Only then did God show his mercy and sent his prophet to announce the end of the disaster. St. Ilia is worshipped by all Christians as one of the greatest biblical prophets, along with Moses. His life story tells how, when he died, a fiery chariot, pulled by fiery horses, took him to the skies. This is how the saint is depicted by icon-painters – in a gold-plated sky chariot, pulled by four white horses. In the christianized mythological believes, when the world was divided, St. Ilia took the “summer thunders and storms”; he is the master of all summer sky elements and hailstorms. Ilinden (or the day of St. Ilia) is celebrated as the day of the most important saint –“hailstormer”. In his honour, people make offerings by slaughtering the oldest rooster and baking round loafs for him. All-village fairs are organized. Ilinden is also the holiday of all members of the guild of curriers, furriers, packsaddle-makers, and tile-makers. It is also the name day of all people called Ilia, Ilian/a.