Medieval frescoes of Saint Ladislaus uncovered
According to index, frescoes of Saint Ladislaus were discovered in the Saxon evangelic church of Transylvanian Somogyom (in Romanian Șmig). Since the surface of the medieval paintings, when put together, exceeds 100 m2, it is very special, unique and valuable find. The finder is Lóránd Kiss, a wall painting restaurateur from Marosvásárhely (RO Târgu Mureș) and his team. He gave the Hungarian News Agency (MTI) a detailed description of their discovery.
Frescoes of Hungarian king Saint Ladislaus on the wall
As a matter of fact, Transylvania is rich in historical remains and even legends. Thus, it is not surprising that Bram Stoker
chose Transylvania to be the scene of his most well-known novel about Dracula.
Lóránd Kiss and his team has discovered a long-forgotten wall painting hidden beneath the thick layers of lime for centuries.
Additionally, they found it in the small Lutheran church of the former Saxon village of Somogyom. According to index, Kiss’s team has been maintaining the medieval church for years. Of course, if they had some free time, they tried to study the centuries old walls. This is how they discovered that under many thick layers of white lime
hides one of the biggest wall paintings in Transylvania.
More than 100 m2 of frescoes
Furthermore, lime preserved the whole painting of the former shrine. In fact, the painting tells many legends and biblical stories depicted in different registers which are very similar to modern-day comics, since they tell a longer story with pictures. One of these registers depicts the legend of Saint Ladislaus (1077-1095), a successful Hungarian medieval king.
However, according to Kiss and his colleagues, for example, Tekla Szabó, an art historian and expert of medieval wall paintings,
they could only make the chasing scene visible yet.
Thus, lime covers the other 4/5th of the painting, which uniquely exceeds 100 m2.
In fact, representations of the Saint Ladislaus-legend generally contain the same elements. For example, the king chases a Cumanian soldier who kidnapped a Hungarian girl and then kills him bravely in a duel, or when he leaves the fortress of Nagyvárad (RO Oradea). Kiss added that paintings are always the same, only small details and the style of the artist varies. Therefore, experts assume that there was an old masterpiece which later artists tried to imitate.
Saint Ladislaus’s cult much more popular than presumed before?
It is less known that there are many wall paintings depicting the legends of Saint Ladislaus in Transylvania. For example, similar frescoes can be found in the churches of Szászivánfalva (RO Ighisul Nou) and Ecel (RO Atel). However,
these are not as big as the one found in October in Somogyom.
According to Kiss, they already managed to reveal, preserve and partly restore the frescoes in Szentivánfalva. Irregularly, the wall-paintings in Ecel decorated the northern outer wall of the former medieval temple. Thus, they are now in the attic of the later built vestry.
According to Kiss, the wall-paintings of Saint Ladislaus in the Saxon temples confirm that his cult was popular not only in Szeklerland, but also in other parts of the former Hungarian Kingdom. There are even examples of Hungarian saints depicted on the walls of orthodox churches in Transylvania. He mentioned orthodox temples of Kristyor (Criscior) and Ribice (Ribita) as examples.
Photo: Tekla Szabó