The prophet Elisha was a pupil of the famous prophet, Elijah. He went on to become Elijah’s successor and performed many miracles. At God’s request, Elijah had first called Elisha to be his disciple and successor when he was ploughing with oxen.
Eventually, the time came for Elijah to go to heaven. So the Spirit of God led him to the River Jordan, and Elisha went with him. As a final request, Elijah agreed to pass his spiritual gifts on to Elisha. As they walked by the river, a fiery chariot driven by horses parted them, and Elijah was carried in it up to heaven.
Elisha then picked up Elijah’s prophetic cloak, which had fallen as he went to heaven. He used it to strike the River Jordan, which miraculously parted, allowing him to cross to the other side. After this, the other disciples of Elijah acknowledged him as their new master.
The miraculous life of Elisha was later summed up by the biblical writer Sirach, who wrote: “When Elijah was enveloped in the whirlwind, Elisha was filled with his spirit. He performed twice as many signs, and marvels with every utterance of his mouth. Never in his lifetime did he tremble before any ruler, nor could anyone intimidate him at all.” (Sirach 48:12)
This image of Elisha (or ‘Eliseus’, his Greek name) is found within the National Shrine of St Jude in Faversham, which is run by the Carmelites. Elijah and Elisha are popular Carmelite saints and both are featured at this shrine. It shows Elisha picking up the cloak of Elijah, which fell to the ground as he went up to heaven. Elisha is correctly shown as a bald man – a feature for which he was mocked by some children (2 Kings 2:23). The stained glass window was installed in 1957 and is by the Irish artist Richard King.
See the full image:
Where to find this work of art
National Shrine of St Jude, Faversham
Read the relevant passage
2 Kings 2:1-15