The Old Testament Prophet Malachi lived in the 5th century BC during the reigns of kings Ezra and Nehemiah and was the last Biblical prophet. The Holy Fathers call him “the seal of the prophets” as his prophesies constitute the closing book of the canon. The prophet Malachi was descended from the tribe of Zebulun. He lived during the return of the Hebrews from the Babylonian exile and died at a young age. For his righteous life, purity and kindness he was named Malachi (the Lord’s Angel).

The Prophet Malachi predicted the coming of the Lord and His Forerunner “in the spirit and power of Elijah”: “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me” (Malachi 3: 1) - he will turn the hearts of the parents to their children (4: 6) and prepares the way before the Savior saying about Him “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1: 29).

The Prophet Malachi is traditionally depicted as a gray-haired old men wearing a blue chiton, ochrous or wine-colored himation and sandals; other color combinations are also encountered in the iconography. The Malachi image does not have stable features. As a gray-haired man he is depicted in a miniature of the Sacra Parallela manuscript (the 10th century, the National Library of France, Paris); as a younger man on a miniature of the 10th century Interpretations of the Book of the Prophets (The National Library, Turin) and on the mosaics of the Daphni Monastery, with a black beard on the mosaics of Venetia’s St. Mark’s Basilica. An inscription on the Prophet Malachi’s scroll cites the Book of Malachi (3:1-2). The same quotation is encountered on the mosaics of St. Mark’s Basilica (Venetia, the 12th century) and the Daphni Monastery’s mosaics (ca. 1100), on the wall-paintings of the Karanlik Kilise Cathedral in Göreme (the 11th century) and on the mosaics of the Monreale Cathedral in Sicily (after 1183). In iconography the Prophet Malachi is represented on the icons of the prophets’ tier of iconostases at the Assumption Cathedral of the Cyril of Belozersk Monastery (1497) and the Nativity of the Theotokos Cathedral at the St. Therapont Monastery (1502, Dionysiuus).

The Prophet Malachi is commemorated on January 16th (January 3rd, the old style).

Zhanna G. Belik,

Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.

Olga E. Savchenko,

research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.


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