1067 – 2009 Trip to Athos: Filotheou exo-narthex part 1, day 2 – 4

Today we take a closer look at the wall paintings of the exo-narthex of the church of Filotheou.
Traditionally this is the area where the common people enter the church and spend a lot of their time. That is why the scenes in the exo-narthex are very similar in Orthodox churches, with a lot of devils, monsters and Apocalyptic stories. In Filotheou the paintings in the exo-narthex are of an exceptional quality.

Filotheou courtyard, with the exo-narthex on the left

The writer of this blog busy photografing the exo-narthex (picture by Jitze Bakker)

Ceiling of the exo-narthex (picture by Jitze Bakker)

The Katholicon of Filotheou was build in 1477 and the Georgian (Iberian) king Leon with his son Alexander financed large renovations in 1540. The Naos was painted with the help of Rumanian benefactors in 1752. The Exo-narthex followed 13 years later, in 1765.
Feigl says in his Athos-book that “the paintings of the Apocalypse cycle in the Exo-narthex are of a remarkable high quality of art and they still have their original fresh colors. The grandiose paintings are totally forgotten by art critics and art historians”.
Who painted these fine fresco’s is unknown.

Another ceiling, with the Holy Virgin surrounded by angels who seem to carry her. Look at the sun shining in her womb. It shows chapter 12 from the Apocalyps (thanks Bertinos). In the middle lower section a model of the monastery (?).

Detail from the previous picture: a multi headed dragon with crowns, a model of the monastery and the old Saint John the Divine/Theologian in his cave at Patmos (again thanks Bertinos).

The child Jezus sitting on a shawl held by angels, near a throne.

Another ceiling with the Lamb God’s in the middel with numerous Saints and officials/statesmen/Emporers around it.

Detail from the previous picture: Byzantine rulers/Emperor and Empores (?). Look at the fine dresses.

Another detail from the previous picture: a long haired lady

Apocalyptic scenes, also seen in the exo-narthex of Dionysiou, of which some say it predicted the atomic bomb explosion.

Detail of the locust Apocalyps and the cloud with a bright light in it

Officials kneeling in front of a multi-headed dragon

Detail: the dragon

Jezus with his warriors, riding horses on clouds, facing the enemy, and a large monster, allready consuming the enemy

Detail: Jezus on a horse

Detail: his victims, Islamic soldiers. Whenever pictures are frightning, pilgrims tend to stick their eyes out (and to prefend the “evil-eye” looking at them?).

Next time more paintings.

Wim, 26/5

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2 Responses to 1067 – 2009 Trip to Athos: Filotheou exo-narthex part 1, day 2 – 4

  1. Bertinos says:

    The “multi-headed dragon” with 10 crowned and horned heads is the Beast (which number is 666) from the Apocalypse (hence the depiction of the old Saint John the Divine/Theologian in his cave at Patmos). The first scene with the Virgin Mary refers to chapter 12 from the Apocalyps.

    PS: her 12-starred crown was taken as flag of the European Union…

  2. Wim says:

    Here is the complete tekst of chapter 12 of the Apocalypse of St. John:
    And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: 2 And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered. 3 And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head seven diadems: 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son. 5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod: and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne.

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