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The Chapel of the Prophet Elias

The Chapel of the Prophet Elias through the years

Lithograph of the Chapel of the Prophet Elijah, by David Roberts, published in 1856. The artist visited the chapel on February 20, 1839.

I took this photograph in 2005. The iconostasion is adorned with both painted icons and paper icon prints. It is painted various shades of blue, with openwork wooden panels set into the central doors.

A few years ago, Russian pilgrims with good intentions brought a new iconostasion for the church. At least the candlestick has remained the same through the years.

6 comments to The Chapel of the Prophet Elias

  • CG

    Is the Russian one still in place? In my view, only the ikons are preferable to the earlier ones, but both ikonostasia seem at odds with the superb simplicity of the altar shown in your previous photographs.

  • Catherine Fairchild

    In the lithograph, the candlestick is leaning at such an odd angle, it seems to defy gravity. Do you know of any reason for this?

    • Father Justin

      One of the feet must have come off. The candlestick is leaning over, resting on the rim of the base. It has since been repaired. The lithographs of David Roberts are unsurpassed for capturing the ethos of each site, but he did take liberties. The iconostasion must have had icons in place, but he drew it as an empty screen on one side, to show more clearly the cave at the back.

  • Elizabeth

    David Roberts’ version makes it look like a much taller space with a square ceiling. The church space itself, looks totally different between his rendition and the modern photography even though the iconostasis is quite similar with the first photo. Has the interior been changed, turned into a vaulted structure, since he did his painting?

    • Father Justin

      David Roberts made careful sketches during his travels to the Holy Land, Sinai, and Egypt (1838-1840), and from these, lithographs were created for the publication of his work. These prints are unsurpassed for capturing the scene, but cannot always be trusted for details. He made a sketch of the inside of the Sinai basilica, but in the lithograph, mouldings have been added to the arches which are not there. The ceiling in the chapel of the Prophet Elias is something like a barrel vault. This may not have presented any details when he made the sketch, and then a high flat ceiling was added in the lithograph.

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