Hidden Frescoes

   
We arrived in Varna to visit the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God. The cathedral was consecrated on August 30, 1886.

The icon screen is heavily carved with icons that are very 19th century.

Rusenski-040447The devotion of people always touches me profoundly. When I saw this young man in prayer I thought of the young Muslim women in prayer. The human soul yearns for the incomprehensible mystery of God that we know has become incarnate in Jesus. This image of a young man at the foot of the cross inspires me to prayer.

The guide pointed out that during 500 years of Islamic domination under the Ottoman empire new churches could not be built and had to be low when repaired so the mosques would dominate. So a little over 100 years ago when they overthrew the yoke of Islamic domination the construction of churches was a priority and a sign of their freedom.

From Varna we drove into the fertile valley and into the region where the Danube flows into the Black Sea.

We arrived in Rusenski Lom which is a gorge which became a place where monks lived in caves. This was an opportunity to visit the rock hewn churches of Ivanovo. There were over 300 monolithic chapels and churches however most of them are not preserved.

The rock formations are very conducive to silence so no wonder it appealed to the hesychists monks who lived in total silence in a life dedicated to prayer.

When I began the climb up I was thinking about all the rock hewn churches I had seen in Ethiopia.

When you look at the entrance to the church you realize how much beauty is hidden to our eyes. The monastic movement flourished in the 13th century however after the Islamic conquest in the 14th century the settlement decayed. Today this is a treasure trove of 13th century frescoes of the Palaeologan period.

The Transfiguration.

Last supper.

These frescoes predate Giotto about 70 years. The molding of the figures show a humanism that is breaking away from iconic hieratic style.

The Annunciation.

The Anastasis. The Harrowing of Hell.

The natural light gives a golden hue to the frescoes.