Church of Elijah the Prophet

Church of Elijah the Prophet
View of the Church of Elijah the Prophet from the bell tower of the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery

Church of Elijah the Prophet in Yaroslavl

The first temple in Yaroslavl is the Church of Elijah the Prophet. On the one hand, this is a part of the Yaroslavl Museum-Reserve, an architectural monument accessible to tourists. On the other hand, there is a functioning church in the Yaroslavl diocese, in which services are held.

Church of Elijah the Prophet
Carved iconostasis in the church

The Church of Elijah the Prophet is located in the center of Yaroslavl, Kirovsky district. The square on which it stands began to be called Soviet since 1918. Earlier, for several centuries, it was Ilinskaya – by the name of the temple. Once upon a time, two wooden churches stood in its place, and in the mid-1600s one large stone church was erected here.

The Church of Elijah the Prophet in Yaroslavl has a difficult fate. In its history there was a fire, ruin, an anti-religious museum. Now it is one of the most recognizable symbols of the city, a treasury of ancient Russian art, which is included in the zone protected by UNESCO.
At first it was a wooden church – the same age as Yaroslavl itself. According to legend, Prince Yaroslav the Wise defeated the bear on the day of Elijah the Prophet, so he built a temple in honor of this saint. However, that church has not reached our time.

In 1647-1650, a stone temple was erected in its place, as well as on the site of the nearby Church of the Intercession of the Mother of God. The money for the construction was given by the richest merchants of that time, who moved to Yaroslavl from Veliky Novgorod – the Skripin brothers, Ioanniky (Anikey) and Bonifatius. There is a version that in this way they wanted to leave the memory of their surname: the merchants had no heirs.

By the end of the construction, Patriarch Joseph presented the Skripins with a particle of the Lord’s robe, which had previously been kept in the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. In honor of receiving the shrine, the Chapel of the Robe was erected.

Church of Elijah the Prophet
Ilyinsky temple in winter

Interesting Facts
Do you know what the Isaac Cathedral in St. Petersburg, the Parisian Pantheon, the Church of St. John in Vilnius and the Church of Elijah the Prophet in Yaroslavl have in common? Foucault’s pendulum is or was everywhere! It was hung under the dome of the Yaroslavl church in the late 1930s, when an anti-religious museum was opened in the church, where the relics of the Yaroslavl saints had previously been transferred.
970 plots have a unique painting that completely covers the temple. And we have not yet counted the ornaments that adorn the lower parts of the walls, window sills and benches.
The mention of the Elias Church, the wooden one that was even before the stone church, is found in the story “About the Miracle of the Icon of the Savior in 1612”. There is a story that a certain blind man, when the holy icon was carried past the church of the Prophet Elijah, regained his sight “with both eyes, as if he had never sowed sickness.”

Church of Elijah the Prophet
Frescoes cover not only the walls of the temple, but also the vaults

Initially, the Church of Elijah the Prophet in Yaroslavl stood on the territory of the Skripins’ estate. And only when more than a hundred years later the city began to be reconstructed, it ended up in the center of the square, closing several streets on itself.
A particle of the Lord’s robe, presented to merchants, was considered lost for more than 80 years. And only at the beginning of the 21st century it was discovered in the funds of the Yaroslavl Historical and Architectural Museum-Reserve.
The Church of Elijah the Prophet in Yaroslavl is famous for its artistic decoration. The original paintings of the 17th century have been fully preserved here. The six tiers of the central church in 1680 were painted by an artel of 15 painters in just three months. The themes of the paintings are evangelical events, the acts of the apostles, the life and deeds of the prophet Elijah and his disciple, the prophet Elisha. The most famous fresco, which is mentioned wherever Yaroslavl is referred to, is The Harvest.

Try to find among the huge images of saints on the pillars of the temple of the holy martyr Boniface and the Monk John the Great – the holy merchants-creators of the temple in eternal prayer for them.

The gilded iconostasis is slightly younger than the frescoes. Most of the icons of the lower tier are attributed to the outstanding 17th century icon painter Fyodor Zubov.

The church houses the royal and patriarchal prayer places of the 17th century. They differ from each other in decoration – at the royal place, the tent is decorated with openwork kokoshniks, and at the patriarchal – with cylinders and onion domes.

Church of Elijah the Prophet
Church of Elijah the Prophet at dusk