1126 – Dionysiou: the portico, part 5 (day 2 nr 16)

In Blogs 1100, 1103, 1110 and 1113 I showed you scene 1 to 12 from the Apocalypse of St. John.

Today I continue with scene 13 (chapter 6 of the Apocalypse).IMG_3474 Dionysiou portico scene 13
One of the most famous scenes from the Dionysiou Apocalypse : the four horsemen, including Death on the pale horse (with its eye scratched out by vandals!).

Here are the biblical texts with a commend:

6:2. And I saw: and behold a white horse, and he that sat on him had a bow, and there was a crown given him, and he went forth conquering that he might conquer. 

White horse… He that sitteth on the white horse is Christ, going forth to subdue the world by his gospel. The other horses that follow represent the judgments and punishment that were to fall on the enemies of Christ and his church. The red horse signifies war; the black horse, famine; and the pale horse (which has Death for its rider), plagues or pestilence.
6:4. And there went out another horse that was red. And to him that sat thereon, it was given that he should take peace from the earth: and that they should kill one another. And a great sword was given to him.
6:5. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying: Come and see. And behold a black horse. And he that sat on him had a pair of scales in his hand.
6:8. And behold a pale horse: and he that sat upon him, his name was Death. And hell followed him. And power was given to him over the four parts of the earth, to kill with sword, with famine and with death and with the beasts of the earth.
IMG_3475 Dionysiou portico scene 14
Scene 14: white robes given to the souls of martyrs in heaven:
6:9. And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.
Under the altar… Christ, as man, is this altar, under which the souls of the martyrs live in heaven, as their bodies are here deposited under our altars.
6:11. And white robes were given to every one of them one; And it was said to them that they should rest for a little time till their fellow servants and their brethren, who are to be slain even as they, should be filled up.

Scene 15 is the second famous fresco of the Dionysiou Apocalypse.IMG_3476 Dionysiou portico scene 15
Disaster strikes: an earthquake, falling stars and a red moon and black sun! look at the – badly damaged – faces of scared people hiding in the rocks.

6:12. And I saw, when he had opened the sixth seal: and behold there was a great earthquake. And the sun became black as sackcloth of hair: and the whole moon became as blood.
6:13. And the stars from heaven fell upon the earth, as the fig tree casteth its green figs when it is shaken by a great wind.
6:14. And the heaven departed as a book folded up. And every mountain, and the islands, were moved out of their places.
6:15. And the kings of the earth and the princes and tribunes and the rich and the strong and every bondman and every freeman hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of mountains:
6:16. And they say to the mountains and the rocks: Fall upon us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.
6:17. For the great day of their wrath is come. And who shall be able to stand?

 Scene 16 is the next: chapter 7: 1-4.IMG_3477 Dionysiou portico scene 16The marking of the 144.000 with the seal of the living God and clothed in white robes.

7:1. After these things, I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that they should not blow upon the earth nor upon the sea nor on any tree.
7:2. And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the sign of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
7:3. Saying: Hurt not the earth nor the sea nor the trees, till we sign the servants of our God in their foreheads.
7:4. And I heard the number of them that were signed. An hundred forty-four thousand were signed, of every tribe of the children of Israel.

IMG_3477 Dionysiou portico scene 16 a
Detail of the last scene””The sign of the living God”. Agian this painting is badly damaged, this time not of vandalism, but because of other reasons ……

The penultimate scene is number 17:IMG_3531 Dionysiou portico scene 17In this magnificant painting you will find all objects and scenes as mentioned below in chapter 8 of the Apocalypse: the seven angels with trumpets, the censer with smoke, a mountain in the sea, the bloody sea water, destroyed ships, the fountain of water, the star Wormwood (in the rocks in the right corner), a darkened sun etc etc.

IMG_3531 Dionysiou portico scene 17 detail
Details of scene 17

8:2. And I saw seven angels standing in the presence of God: and there were given to them seven trumpets.
8:3. And another angel came and stood before the altar, having a golden censer: and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints, upon the golden altar which is before the throne of God.
8:4. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel.
(8:5 – 7 ..)
8:8. And the second angel sounded the trumpet: and, as it were, a great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea. And the third part of the sea became blood.
8:9. And the third part of those creatures died which had life in the sea: and the third part of the ships was destroyed.
8:10. And the third angel sounded the trumpet: and a great star fell from heaven, burning as it were a torch. And it fell on the third part of the rivers and upon the fountains of waters:
8:11. And the name of the star is called Wormwood. And the third part of the waters became wormwood. And many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
8:12. And the fourth angel sounded the trumpet: and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars, so that the third part of them was darkened. And the day did not shine for a third part of it: and the night in like manner.

The last scene (nr 18) is from John 9:2-10: this is one of the most famous scenes of the Apocalypse and maybe of whole Athos. Some say this a prediction of the atomic bomb…..

IMG_3530 Dionysiou portico mushroom cloud
Although the mushroom cloud lookes like an nucluair explosion, in fact it is the sun covered by smoke, as you can read below (9.2). The fresco is painted in 1560-64, after an earlier engraving of Hans Holbein (1523). It is of an outstanding quality, probably one of the finest fresco’s on Mount Athos. It is funny to realize that on Mount Athos you are able to see and enjoy these kind of art-masterpieces in situ, so different then art in, for example, Italian churches. In these churches and in museums it would be behind glass and well protected (and you have to pay to see it)!

At the same time it is sad to see that the paintings are so damaged by vandals and that they are so badly preserved. I hope restauration will take place before it is too late!

9:2. And he opened the bottomless pit: and the smoke of the pit arose, as the smoke of a great furnace. And the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke of the pit.
9:3. And from the smoke of the pit there came out locusts upon the earth. And power was given to them, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
9:7. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle. And on their heads were, as it were, crowns like gold: and their faces were as the faces of men.
9:8. And they had hair as the hair of women: and their teeth were as lions.
9:9. And they had breastplates as breastplates of iron: and the noise of their wings was as the noise of chariots and many horses running to battle.
9:10. And they had tails like to scorpions: and there were stings in their tails. And their power was to hurt men, five months.

This ends the publication of the 20 scenes of the Dionysiou-Apocalypse. I think this is the first time that the complete Dionysiou Apocalypse scenes are published on the internet. The only (small) image I missed, was the painting above the door the refectory. But that gives me a good reason to go back next year.

In a following blog I will continue with our hike to Gregoriou.

Wim, 18/10


This entry was posted in 05 Dionysiou, trip 2009: Wim's group. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to 1126 – Dionysiou: the portico, part 5 (day 2 nr 16)

  1. Peter says:

    Just discovered your blog a couple of days ago and I’m enjoying the posts. I hope to visit one of the monasteries and learn more about monastic cooking.

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