Medieval Fisherman of
Saint Zeno from Verona
History of hook
Confined in lush vegetation, on a small plain near the river Jerma, close
to the Vlaska Mountain the Monastery of St. John the Divine is standing.
It was built in XIV century and was one of the oldest centers of Christian
spirituality on the Balkans. It was home to many generations of monks who
kept their Orthodox Christian faith even in the hardest of circumstances.
It was flooded several times, but their frescoes remained and one small
detail is particularly interesting there.
Very unusual for a scene in
frescoes, painted in a very strictly defined fashion, on one of them there
is a picture of a fisherman, sitting with a small creel on the river bank,
and fishing. The medieval artist painted with great precision the whole
small world of a river and its bottom life: fish, crayfish, shells and
insect larvae. All that would not be so unusual if only the river on the
picture was not the Jordan, and the main scene was not the baptism of
Jesus Christ. Facing such facts, you don’t need to be a fisherman to ask
yourself some questions.
Monastery of St. John
the Divine (XIV century)
Did the artist, by putting the
ordinary life detail into a key biblical scene, wanted to pass on the
important message of Christianity which was lost during its twenty
centuries of existence…
Was maybe the artist himself a fisherman, and in this way he left the
signature on his artwork ….
Or he just painted the scene which he was able to see frequently on the
banks of the nearby Jerma.
The photograph of the
original fresco in the Monastery of St. John the Divine
Lacking firmer evidence we can only follow the logic that the medieval
fresco painters from the Ioannina area of Greece, which is close to
Emathia, the area which Aelian described as the place where fly fishing
was first observed and described – painted the scenes brought in memory
from their birthplace, which they also observed on the banks of the Jerma.
The part of the fresco with the scene of fisherman on the Jordan (or Jerma)
is presently renovated. We do hope that it will soon look as nice as it
did through centuries and that it would continue to inspire thoughts about
generations of fishermen who enjoyed with their rods in hands long before
of Jesus Christ baptism scene