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that time, one of the fresco masters of the Dečani narthex painted the prophets on the inner side of the arch, below Christ in the apex who is blessing, and the holy martyrs and hermits on its frontal surfaces. The figures of Christ the Savior on the southern and the Virgin with Child on the northern pilaster are invested with a special meaning: here the Mother of God—in a conversation written down on a scroll—addresses the Son in a prayer for the salvation of mankind. Both representations, hence, remind of the funerary character of the space in which the sarcophagi of archbishops arsenije and Sava ii were resting. joanikije’s direct care of this wall painting, as in Saint Demetrius, is indicated by the figure of his namesake and protector, St. joanikius, who is painted next to Christ. The archbishop had a special reason for that: he was also buried here in 1345 in the southwestern corner of the nave, and the fu- neral service over his body, in the presence of a great num- ber of clergymen and laymen, is represented in the fresco on the arched surface above his sarcophagus.
Somewhat later, probably in connection with the rear- rangement of the Great Church, new frescos were painted in the choirs. judging by all facts, these walls must have been damaged by humidity before the two other churches were built on either side, when the vaults over them were raised to a greater height. Higher up, previous scenes of the Great Feasts, probably dating to the 13th century, were re- placed by more recent ones, while below them hermits were portrayed on the northern side, and warriors on the south- ern. in the right-hand choir there is an elevated spot fenced with red stone where stood the throne of the head of the Serbian Church. Christ the Righteous judge is portrayed above the throne, and next to him, as in many cathedral churches, is the figure of St. Peter, because he represented the heritage of pastoral duty, a reminder of the apostolic mission of bishops. in front of the throne before the eyes of the archbishops sitting on it and in accordance with local tradition stands the figure of St. Sava, their predecessor. For this reason there is a customary expression in ancient sources: Serbian archbishops “hold St. Sava’s throne.” in a rich ambience whose wall decoration was then restored, the slender figures, dried in some spots, figures of vivid coloring and deliberate modulation, departed from the earlier, sculpturally richer, painting, announcing the style of the Morava school shrines.
The Narthex
St. Sava’s portrait above the stone throne in the narthex by the entrance to the Holy apostles represents an isolated example of such articulation which has survived in these surroundings. The founder of the Serbian Church is in- vested here with the title of patriarch, belying historical fact. That title here, however, expresses in an unusual way an event of special importance in the ecclesiastical and po- litical life of the country. The coronation of Stefan Dušan as emperor and the elevation of archbishop joanikije to the
Fresco of the Burial Service,
the Tomb and the Sarcophagus of Patriarch Joanikije, Church of the Holy apostles, west bay, south wall, the Patriarchate of Peć, 1354–1356
rank of patriarch (1346) provoked the protest of the Byzan- tine court and the Constantinople church, and subsequent- ly the pronouncement of an anathema in Saint Sophia’s Cathedral. The profound conviction and separation from the Orthodox community placed a burden on the con- science of the Serbian clergy and the entire society and they strove to have the anathema lifted. The first agreement on reconciliation was achieved with the same Constantinople patriarch who uttered the anathema, but it never material- ized because a bout of plague killed him, and with him part of his escort in the court of Despot jovan Uglješa in Serres. about ten years later through the efforts of Prince Lazar an agreement was reached and the anathema lifted, probably with the stipulation that Serbian ecclesiastical leaders could keep the title of patriarch within the borders of their coun- try, while the ecumenical church continued to address them as archbishops. The portrait of St. Sava with the unusual rank of patriarch above the throne of the head of the Ser- bian Church was painted after the Councils held in Peć in 1374 and 1375, and, undoubtedly, right in the large narthex
Patriarchate of Peć
 Serbian Kings Stephen the First-crowned and Stephen Uroš I as monastics, west bay, south wall, Church of the Holy apostles, the Patriarchat of Peć, ca. 1300

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