Beram - St. Mary of the Rocks - frescoes from 1474
Beram is close to Pazin. Driving from Porec across Istria usually means passing Pazin - but many people do not pay attention to Beram, a little fortified town few miles before Pazin if one drives from Porec. There is a narrow one-lane road leading to the top of the hill where the center of the small town is. In the center is a parochial church of St. Martin - but it is NOT the main attraction of Beram.
The main attraction of Beram is a small chapel about a mile from the center of the town - one needs to either walk or carefully drive there on the same road.
Afer arrival on the top look back to the road you arrived. There is a "Y" - you arrived on the left branch on that "Y", continue to the right, down the hill.
But before you will need a key. The best is to ask the waiter of the restaurant which is on the main square, opposite of the St. Martin church. In August of 2011 the key was kept in the house #38 off the main square - but obviously it may change.
The chapel of St. Mary (in Croatian: Sv. Marija na Škriljinah) does look humble from the outside, inside it is fully painted. The name of the painter is recorded as Vincent of Kastav and he had two assistants. The work was done 1474.
It is worth to pay attention to three details:
- The famous painting of "dance of death"
- That some of the writings on the frescoes are in Glagolitsa (a somewhat 'forgotten' Slavic alphabet, not Latin) and the locals are very proud of it.
- The baroque ceiling, made of wooden tabulas in 1707
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
"Dance of The Dead" in Beram
Our guide book was as helpful in as much as telling us we needed to go to Beram, which we did. It's a small place with a whopping big church BUT this is NOT the church required!
There's map of sorts on a board near the church - and if you can follow the directions and find The Confraternity Church of St. Mary on Skrilinah, from it's directions... I salute you! We managed to follow the directions down a very steep, pokey, teeny, tiny lane to somebody's front door! (and getting the car back up created a cetain level of stress!).
Beram was deserted so we were a little kippered in our quest for the fresco. However a crumpled, old lady eventually tottered slowly along the road so I gave her my cheesiest smile, my best "Dobradan" and showed her a picture of "The Dance of The Dead. Our very old friend looked at us, pulled the biggest key I have ever seen out from her coat pocket, hot footed it into the passenger seat of the car and started screaming in Croatian and pointing madly with her stick.
The frescos are amazing and we were allowed to dwell as long as we wished. They were painted by Vincent from Kastav in 1474, but it is thought that he probably had 2 helpers! The longest compostition is the Homage of the Three Kings. The best, by far is the Dance of The Dead on the western wall.
As we left a coach of tourists arrived which means it must be possible to (somehow) pre-arrange a visit via a tour. Obviously a large tour is never going to be as good as a private viewing but unless you are in Beram at the same time as the little old and bent over lady with the very big key... you're gonna be stuffed!
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Religious Travel
The three wise men riding across Istra
This field is the first from left of the upper row on the northern wall and spread over six fields of the lower row, until a narrow window. As it is so long, it is not easy to take a photography and I forgot to take it in the end. I feel that I have parts of it that I should try to stick together.
- Religious Travel
- Road Trip
The wheel of fortune
This field is on the western wall, on the right to the main entrance.
Most of this field was equally destroyed when a new window was opened in the 18th century, right to the main entrance. I did not felt useful to take a photo. May be I should have !
- Road Trip
- Religious Travel
Adam and Eve
This field is on the western wall, left to the main entrance.
Most of this field was destroyed when a new window was opened in the 18th century. Only the legs (under the knee !) of Adam and Eve remain ! I thought it was unnecessary to take the picture.
- Religious Travel
- Road Trip
The Judas kiss
This field is the first from right of the lower row on the northern wall, right to a narrow window.
Just then Judas, one of Jesus’ followers, came with a large crowd. He came and kissed Jesus on the cheek. This was a sign to tell the guards who they were to arrest. They came and arrested Jesus. All Jesus’ followers ran away.
The Last Supper
This field is the first from right of the upper row on the northern wall, right to a narrow window.
The Passover supper went on. Jesus stood up and took a loaf of bread, gave thanks for it, broke it, and gave a piece to each one of His apostles. As Jesus did this, He said, “Eat this, for this is My body which is broken for you”. Then He took a cup of wine and handed it to each of His apostles in turn while saying, “Drink this, for this is My blood which is shed for you and for many”.
At the end of the supper, Jesus told His apostles, “I give to you a new commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another”. When the supper was over, they all stood up and sang a psalm and then they left the room
The Mount of Olives
This field is the second from right of the lower row on the northern wall, left to a narrow window.
Then importantly, after the Last Supper, the disciples go with Jesus to the Mount of Olive and there Jesus tells them they will deny him and leave him but Peter leaps in again and says “Everyone else will desert you but I won’t ”. Jesus tells him that he will - but Peter comes back again and says “Even if I have to die with you I won’t deny you” and we know the sequel…That same night, within hours of this remarkable statement of loyalty and commitment, Peter denies Jesus three times, and we know that he was desperately disappointed with himself - and ashamed - and he went out and wept bitterly.
Jesus entering in Jerusalem
This field is the third from right of the lower row on the northern wall.
They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! , Hosanna in the highest!" When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?"
The Legend of St. George and the Dragon
St. George journeyed for many months by land and sea until he came to Egypt. Here he met a poor hermit who told him that everyone in that land was in great distress, for a dragon ravaged the country. Every day said he demands the sacrifice of a beautiful maiden and now all the young girls have been killed. The King's daughter alone remains, and unless we can find a knight who can slay the dragon she will be sacrificed tomorrow. The king of Egypt will give his daughter in marriage to the champion who overcomes this terrible monster.
When St. George heard this story, he was determined to try and save the princess. He rested that night in the hermit's hut, and at daybreak set out to the valley where the dragon lived.
As soon as the dragon saw him it rushed from its cave, roaring with a sound louder than thunder. Its head was immense and its tail fifty feet long. But St. George was not afraid. He struck the monster with his spear, hoping he would wound it. The dragon's scales were so hard that the spear broke into a thousand pieces. and St. George fell from his horse. Fortunately he rolled under an enchanted orange tree against which no poison could prevail, so that the venomous dragon was unable to hurt him. Within a few minutes he had recovered his strength and was able to fight again.
He smote the beast with his sword but the dragon poured poison on him and his armor split in two. Once more he refreshed himself from the orange tree and then, with his sword in his hand, he rushed at the dragon and pierced it under the wing where there were no scales, so that it fell dead at his feet.
This field is the fourth from left (middle) of the lower row on the northern wall.
George was born in Cappadocia (now Eastern Turkey) in the year AD 270. He was a Christian. At the age of seventeen he joined the Roman army and soon became renowned for his bravery. He served under a pagan Emperor, Diocletian, but never forgot his Christian faith.
The Emperor Diocletian gave him many important missions, and it is thought that on one of these he came to England. It was while he was in England that he heard the Emperor was putting all Christians to death and so he returned to Rome to help his brothers Christians. He pleaded with the Emperor to spare their lives. Diocletian did all he could to persuade George to give up his faith, but he refused and was finally beheaded on 23 April, 303.
This field is the third from left of the lower row on the northern wall.
This is his story: In 316 or 317 Martin was born in Sabaria (now Hungary). His father had reached the rank of an important officer in the Roman army. His son was named after the war god Mars : Martin, the brave, the courageous. The family moved to Pavia in Italy. When he was 15, as son of an officer, he had to join the Roman army. He was sent to France and there the following happened.
On a cold and foggy day, Martin and his soldiers rode to the city of Amiens. It was cold and Martin and his soldiers made haste. At the moment Martin rode through the gate, a scarcely dressed beggar stepped forward. While shivering, the man asked for money. Martin halted while the other soldiers went on. Martin dismounted but he had no money on him and he thought by himself about what he could do for such a poor man while he had no money.
He cut his soldier's robe into two pieces. The biggest piece he gave to the beggar, who went away in good spirits for he was clad. That night Martin had a dream. In that dream Jesus came to him, clad only in half a soldier's robe, that he had given to the poor beggar. Than he heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized, he has clad me." The dream had such an impact on Martin that he was baptized the next day and became a Christian. He decided to leave the army and became a monk near the city of Tours. He did a lot of good work so that he became famous in the area, and later even became bishop of Tours.
The Three Wise Men
This field is the second from left of the lower row on the northern wall.
The Three Wise Men, also known as the Three Magi or the Three Kings, appear in the New Testament, in the Gospel of Matthew. There, they appear before Jesus as a child, noting that they observed his star in the east, and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They first visit Herod, asking where the new king can be found. Herod sends them to Bethlehem, and asks that they return when they have found him. The Magi, however, are warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, and their failure to report back leads directly to the massacre of the Holy Innocents.
Jesus in the Desert
This field is the first from left of the lower row on the northern wall.
The Gospels speak of a time of solitude for Jesus in the desert immediately after his baptism by John. Driven by the Spirit into the desert, Jesus remains there for forty days without eating; he lives among wild beasts, and angels minister to him. At the end of this time Satan tempts him three times, seeking to compromise his filial attitude toward God. Jesus rebuffs these attacks, which recapitulate the temptations of Adam in Paradise and of Israel in the desert, and the devil leaves him "until an opportune time".
Slaughter of the Innocents
This field is the first from right of the lower row on the southern wall.
According to Matthew's gospel, once Herod realized that he had been tricked by the wise men, he ordered the slaughter of all male babies under two years of age living in or around Bethlehem: