The urge to draw pictures predates written language, as can be seen in cave drawings in Europe that the experts say date back thousands of years. So it is no surprise to discover that people used to draw on church walls too.
Other than the odd mural, which usually isn’t in the sanctuary itself, I can’t think of much art adorning the walls of modern churches. Tastes have changed I guess. Or maybe we don’t see our modern artists as talented enough.
Whatever the reason, I have been drawn to ancient frescoes whenever my travels have brought me to places where they are still on display, from the cave churches of Cappadocia, Turkey, to the Mariankirche in Lippstadt, Germany. There’s something special about these expressions of faith that have stood the test of time.
There’s a church on the street where we live that has frescoes, or at least the remans of some. I don’t know if there used to be more than they were covered during the 16th century Reformation, or whether they faded naturally with time. That is one of those questions I forget to ask whenever I visit the church.
St. Cyriak has been around a long time. No-one knows for certain exactly how long, just that the church is first mentioned in the town records in 993. My assumption would be that the frescoes date from about the time was built.
Who were the people who created these pictures? Was it jus a paying job, or instead an expression of devotion? Are their names in some archive somewhere in some Latin journal? Or have they been lost to time?
In our lifetimes, most of us will not create anything as lasting as these frescoes. I wonder how the artists would have felt if they knew that a thousand years later we would be looking at their handiwork.
What have you done that people will remember a thousand years from now? Or even a hundred years from now? What will be your legacy? Have you thought of that?
We don’t all have artistic talent. We may not all be able to to create things that will live on long after we are gone.
But all of us can invest in people, helping those who are younger to find their way in the world, to discover Truth and follow it.
Do that, and you may have an effect that lasts longer than the frescoes of St. Cyriak.