Three Hierarchs (first half of the 13th century), Church of Hagios Georgios, Palaios Oropos, 2,15x2,32

Three Hierarchs, Palaios Oropos

Area: Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens
Date: 1st half of the 13th century


It is a representation from the second pictorial layer of the monumental decoration of a small church, which is deserted nowadays. It comes from the northern part of the conch of the chancel. A red band encircles the synthesis, while the window in the apse is surrounded by a band with rosettes alternating with palmettes. Hagios Ignatios the Theophoros, Hagios Gregorios and Hagios Ioannis Chrysostomos are depicted head-on and with the whole body on a dark blue background. The three respected Fathers of the Church are identified both by epigraphic evidence and their prosopographical characteristics. They all wear pontificals denoting their orders. Hagios Ignatios, who is the first one from the left, wears a rosy sticharion, a dark red sacque with light blue strokes, and a white homophorion inscribed with a cross. The saint, whose face looks old, bears a white long pointed beard. He holds a closed code on his chest. In the middle, Hagios Gregorios also holds a closed book in his left hand, while blessing with the right one. His characteristics, such as baldness, a very wrinkled forehead and a rich white beard are indicative of his old age. He wears light coloured pontificals enlightened by random rosy pleats. On the right, Hagios Ioannis Chrysostomos is portrayed in the standard iconographic way, short brown beard and hair, and a thin face with a broad forehead. Due to extensive damage inflicted on his figure there is no possibility to comment on his gestures. The fact that the figures are to their face is a typical example of the archaic iconography of the representation. However, the monumental character of the Fathers of the Church with the clear-cut features, in combination with the painter’s rich expressive means lead us to the conclusion that he was a good artist active in the first half of the 13th century.

Church of Hagios Georgios: it' s a 13th century ruined basilica, SW of Old Oropos village. The frescoes have been remooved and are now displayed at the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens.  Traces of the frescoes are still visible on parts of the walls.