In Christian tradition, the Old Testament Prophet Samuel is considered one of the twelve Minor Prophets. His life is described in 1 Kings and Sirach. Samuel lived in the 12th century BC. At the age of 12, Samuel had a revelation that the Lord would punish Eli, the judge over Israel, for not chastising his wicked sons. The prophesy came true when the Philistines defeated the Israelites.

After Eli’s death Samuel became the judge of Israel. When Samuel was old, he placed his sons Joel and Avia as judges over Israel but they didn’t inherit his father’s decency and fairness. So the elders of Israel demanded of Samuel to set a king over them. Samuel regarded it as a deep moral fall of the people who had been ruled by the Lord Himself, conveying His will through the saint chosen ones. Saul, who had been set as the king of Israel, was soon denounced by the prophet for sacrilege and disobedience. Thereafter the prophet secretly anointed David king. The prophet Samuel died in the old age. In 406 AD the prophet’s relics were transferred from Judah to Constantinople.

The Prophet Samuel is traditionally depicted as an old man wearing high-priest vestment, in boots, with a horn or a censer in hands. On some icons the prophet Samuel is shown holding a vessel with oil. In iconography the Prophet Samuel is represented in the prophets’ row of the high iconostases, such as in the Assumption Cathedral of the Cyrill of Belozersk Monastery (1497, State Russian Museum).

The Prophet Samuel is commemorated on September 2nd (August 20th, 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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