St. Elisha ― An Old Testament Saint with Many Fantastic Miracles

St. Elisha the Prophet, pray for us!

Benjamin West, “Elisha Raising the Shunammite’s Son,” 1766
Benjamin West, “Elisha Raising the Shunammite’s Son,” 1766 (photo: Public Domain)

Elijah set out, and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat, as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak on him. ―1 Kings 19:19

Elisha (e-LIE-sha) was a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel in the 800s BC. His moment of calling was rather mystical: Elisha was plowing a field with twelve yoke of oxen when his predecessor, Elijah, came along and placed his mantle over Elisha’s shoulders―a symbol of a call to share in prophetic work. Elisha requested time to say farewell to his parents and then slew the oxen, gave the meat to the people, and joined Elijah.

Chapters 2–9 in 2 Kings hold the bulk of the many extraordinary stories surrounding Elisha. After a miraculous crossing of the Jordan River, Elisha watched in amazement as Elijah was suddenly taken to heaven on a fiery chariot. Elisha then took Elijah’s cloak and repeated the miracle Elijah had just displayed of striking the cloak upon the water, causing the river to split open.

Also included in these chapters are many other mystical accounts that demonstrate how powerfully the spirit of God was with Elisha: he cleansed bad waters in Jericho, miraculously provided water to Israelite soldiers suffering from dire thirst, inexplicably procured oil for a poor widow, purified poisoned stew, squelched attacks, predicted future events, and more.

One of Elisha’s more popular marvels involves a military commander from the kingdom of Aram named Naaman. Naaman suffered from leprosy and heard of Elisha’s powers. The commander went to the prophet and was stunned that Elisha told him to wash seven times in the Jordan River, for Naaman felt that other rivers had purer waters. Reluctantly, after some urging from his servants, the commander did as he was told and was completely healed.

Astonishingly, yet another miraculous event surrounding Elisha occurred shortly after his death. A man had died, and while his friends were burying him, they noticed a raiding band heading their way. They quickly tossed the man’s dead body into the grave of Elisha, whereupon the man promptly returned to life!


A Biblical Novena to St. Elisha

The Roman Martyrology has St. Elisha listed on its June 14 page. The biblical stories of St. Elisha show a man who deeply cared for people in difficult circumstances—so perhaps people facing burdensome challenges could turn to this Old Testament saint for intercession. Below are nine passages to study, and possibly take notes on—as a way to get to know St. Elisha better.

  • Day 1) 1 Kings 19:19–21
  • Day 2) 2 Kings 2:8–14
  • Day 3) 2 Kings 8:15–25
  • Day 4) 2 Kings 4:1–7
  • Day 5) 2 Kings 4:38–41
  • Day 6) 2 Kings 5:1–8
  • Day 7) 2 Kings 5:9–14
  • Day 8) 2 Kings 6:1–7
  • Day 9) 2 Kings 13:14–21