Slum – Roč – Hum


St. Roch

Roč is a medieval town surrounded by walls with preserved main town gate. Within this gate is a small lapidarium testifying to the town’s importance in Antiquity. However, unlike Antiquity when settlements developed in the valleys, the Middle Ages preferred elevations that provided better defense for the inhabitants. Several churches were built within the town walls of Roč.

The Parish Church of St. Bartholomew, with a Gothic sanctuary topped by a stellar vault was never studied and we do not know if it hides any frescoes.

Yet, research in St. Anthony’s Chapel proved the existence of frescoes, but only hardly legible fragments remain. One of them has the famous graffito – the Roč Glagolitic Abecedarium (Ročki glagoljski abecedarij), famous Glagolitic monument from the beginning of the 13th c., inscribed on the consecration cross.

The sanctuary of St. Roch has two layers of frescoes. The older one from the 14th c. can only partly be seen. However, this is sufficient to detect scenes of martyrdom of SS. Peter and Paul with the scene of the Miracle of St. James, between them. Above them is the layer of frescoes that may be related to the circle of John from Kastav, known to us from Hrastovlje, Gradišče and Podpeč, and we will also meet him in Barban and Božje polje. In the lower part of the painting are arches with a row of Apostles, and in the upper, more damaged part, we can discern Christ in Majesty. The scene is recognizable by two animals with scrolls, lion and eagle, symbols of evangelists Mark and John, who accompanied by the ox (Luke) and angel (Matthew), surrounded the throne with the seated Christ. The frescoes were dated approximately to the year 1470, before the restoration revealed the Glagolitic graffito that suggested the dating to the very end of the 15th c. The graffito is the autograph of Šimun Greblo, famous Glagolitic priest from Roč. Not only do we owe him appreciation for dating the frescoes, but priest Greglo indebted us for leading us by this act into the parallel story of Glagolitic graffiti, frequent “company” of Istrian frescoes.

In Roč you can also see the replica of a printing press, just as those used for printing incunabula, as well as Glagolitic books in the 15th c., in the very infancy of European printing.

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