Theodosia, Crimea, May 22, 2023
Fresco of the Lord communing the Disciples by St. Theophanes the Greek. Photo: Sevastopol.su
The Orthodox faithful of the Crimean city of Theodosia experienced a great spiritual joy yesterday, as a 14th-century church with surviving fragments of frescoes by the great St. Theophanes the Greek was reconsecrated after its full restoration.
The seemingly modest Church of St. Demetrios of Thessaloniki is one of only three surviving churches from the more than 50 built by Greek settlers in the 14th century, and the only one with surviving frescoes from the master iconographer, reports ren.tv.
Passing from Constantinople to Novgorod in 1378, St. Theophanes spent several months in Theodosia, known as Kaffa at that time, and is known to have worked on several churches.
The church suffered from wars, revolutions, and earthquakes over the centuries, but one of the most destructive periods was the 1990s, when the church stood without a roof for several years and most of the ancient paintings were simply washed away by rain and snow.
Restorers froze in horror they first time they entered the church and saw the deplorable state of St. Theophanes’ masterpieces. The painstaking preparation and restoration lasted about four years.
Almost 430 sq. ft. of frescoes have been restored.
According to sevastopol.su, the surviving frescoes depict Christ enthroned in the altar apse with St. John the Baptist on the right and the Theotokos on the left. The Eucharist is painted on the western wall, with Christ Himself distributing Communion to the Disciples, and the Last Judgment on the eastern wall, which is almost completely destroyed.
During the consecration of the church, a rainbow appeared in the sky around the sun. Such an atmospheric phenomenon called a “halo” is extremely rare in Crimea. Parishioners unanimously perceived this sunny halo as a blessing and a good sign.
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