Elias of Thessalonika, St.

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Sicilian monk and pilgrim; b. Enna, Sicily, 823; d. Thessalonika, Aug. 17, 903. Elias, baptized John, fled with his family before the Saracen invasion of Sicily (831), but he was taken prisoner (838) and sold into slavery in Africa. On being redeemed, he undertook a pilgrimage to the East and in Jerusalem changed his name to Elias in honor of the Patriarch elias of jerusalem. He visited Alexandria, Antioch, and parts of Persia. On his return to Palermo, he found his mother still living. He established the monastery of Salianae or Aulianae on the west coast of Calabria. Later he set out on another pilgrimage, and visited Sparta and Epirus; later he journeyed to Rome, where he was received by Pope stephen vi. Called to the Byzantine court, he died en route at Thessalonika. His body was returned to the monastery of Salianae, where his cult began almost immediately. His vita is one of the earliest pieces of 10th-century Sicilian hagiography. He is to be distinguished from Elias Spelaiotes (d. 960), a contemporary monk and hermit from Reggio, Calabria, also the subject of a vita (Acta Sanctorum Sept. 3:843888).

Feast: Aug. 17.

Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum Aug. 3:479509. Bibliotheca hagiographica Graeca, ed. f. halkin, (Brussels 1957) 580. g. marsot, Catholicisme 4:16. a. basile, Archivio storico della Calabria 14 (1945) 1936.

[f. chiovaro]