Podpeč – Zanigrad – Hrastovlje


St. Helen

At the edge of the Karst, as if embracing Istria, above the small badly neglected village stands a round tower, one of the many belvederes we will visit on our journey. From there we will have a nice view of the village that is divided by railroad from its cemetery church. During construction of the railway, fragments of frescoes that were found then were removed. Some of them were kept in the Koper, and others, in the Ljubljana Museum before having been recently brought to their original place. Once again we can see the works of the workshop of the, now already known to us, John from Kastav.

The two out of four preserved scenes belong to the legend of St. Helen, also the titular of the church. This female saint was the mother of the first Christian emperor Constantine. She embraced Christianity and was one of the first pilgrims to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, which was a custom that survived throughout the entire Middle Ages. Besides the scene of St. Helen which is very rare, the disposition of the scenes of Crucifixion and the Adoration of the Magi, one next to the other, is very unusual. In the niches beneath these scenes are depictions of female saints of characteristic traits whose identical images we will find in Hrastovlje and Božje polje. Since the graphic sheets of German and Dutch masters of the time served as patterns and were the inventory of each Late Gothic painting bottega, it is not unusual that the paintings of Podpec were also created following these models.

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