St John the Theologian. Mural in the
nave of the katholikon. Around 1363.
The original decoration of the katholikon with
wall paintings was done at the time of the monastery’s foundation
in the fourteenth century, specifically during the decade 1360-1370.
According to Professor Euthymius Tsigaridas who made a detailed
study of them, the murals preserved from that period are notable
for their “high artistic quality” and are rightly considered to
belong to the school of Panselinos.
Today, after some limited research and a partial cleaning of the
murals, it has become evident that they belong to different periods.
The older murals are those “on the vertical walls of the church,
the sanctuary and the arches supporting the roof.”
In particular, the east wall of the esonarthex is dominated by
the impressive Deesis with its three imposing figures, Christ
Enthroned sitting between the Mother of God and St John the Forerunner
in the posture of supplicants. On the west wall of the nave are
paintings of the dormition of the Mother of God as well as of
great figures from the history of monasticism such as St Anthony
the Great, St Euthymius the Great, St Theodosius the Coenobiarch,
St Pachomius the Great, and so on. Some recent cleaning in the
conches of the choir and specifically in the upper tier of the
left conch of the choir, has revealed beautiful depictions of
the Forefathers and Joseph the husband of Mary, an iconographical
cycle and arrangement which according to Professor Euthymius Tsigaridas
corresponds to that of the Protaton.
Nevertheless, these Palaeologan murals were painted over almost
in their entirety in 1854 by the artist Matthew Ioannou when the
katholikon as a whole was repainted. This repainting is commemorated
in an inscription over the lintel of the doorway leading from
the nave into the lite.
St Joseph the husband of the Blessed
Virgin Mary . Mural in the left choir of the katholikon.
(This sacred temple, become gloomy with the passage of time, was
restored to its original brightness thanks to the patronage of
Meletios. May he be blissfully rewarded by the Supreme Ruler.
Sponsored by D. E. of Vatopedi in the year of Our Lord 1854 and
painted by Matthew Ioannou.)
Apart from these murals, the depiction
of the Ecumenical Councils, the “Words of Christ” (Math. 25, 35-36
• 42-43), the parable of the Ten Virgins and the wall paintings
of the arches, the dome and the small vaults also belong to this
A fragment of a wall painting portraying Prophet Ezekiel has recently
been attributed to Theophanes the Cretan. This fragment, which is
preserved in the sacristy, must have come from the dome of the Chapel
of the Three Hierarchs which was built in the southern part of the
lite but demolished in 1847. It is therefore assumed that the whole
of the ruined chapel was painted by Theophanes.
St John the Forerunner.
Murals in the nave of the katholikon. Around 1363.