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San Clemente: Fresco: Miracle of the Black Sea (11C)

Fresco: Miracle of the Black Sea (11C)

11th-century fresco in the narthex of the lower church, depicting a scene from the legend of St. Clement. The saint was martyred by being tied to an anchor and thrown into the Black Sea. His body came to rest in an underwater tomb, from which it was recovered and buried on an island. Every year, the underwater tomb was revealed by a miraculous ebbing of the tide. Once, during this phenomenon, a child was swept out to sea by the ebbing tide - but the following year he was recovered from the underwater tomb when the tides receded the next year. The joy of the child's mother at finding him alive is shown here.

Below the main scene is a medallion with a bust of St. Clement, with an inscription in the form of a cross: "Seeking me in prayer, beward of hurtful things." Next to him are portraits of the fresco's donors: Beno de Rapiza, his wife Maria Macellaria, and their children Clement and Altilia. This family also sponsored the nearby fresco of the transfer of St. Clement's relics.

Credit: Holly Hayes