The Church of Žehra or the History of the World in One Fresco

There are many nice churches in Slovakia. We’ve heard that the church of Žehra is beautiful and in the list of UNESCO, but we don’t really knew what to expect. From outside it was quite typical for Slovakia.

But this small church in Žehra is really unique, because of its frescos. One of them is extremely precious, because of telling the whole story of the world or at least of the Bible with only one picture. We couldn’t understand this fresco if there wasn’t a very spiritual old lady, who told us all about it. She not only keeps the key of the church and opens it for visitors, but also can tell you everything about the church.

Here is the fresco and the explanation what it means.

The fresco is called the “Tree of Life”. It shows us our life on the Earth, but it is a tree from Eden that grows through the history and tells us more about our life. It has the form of a cross which symbolizes Christ and its time and mission. Christ came to Earth to save us and to give us the new Law, the Law of Love or the so called New Testament. The cross with Christ separates the history of life into Old and New Testament. It shows the change of the old time towards a new era in the development of humanity.

The Old Testament is on the right side. You can see a woman sitting on a donkey. She is carrying with her the signs of the end of the Old Testament, holding a broken flag in her hand, being stabbed to her head with a sword. She is blindfolded, because the old era or the Old Testament wasn’t able to change the people towards better. There was no more future in the Old Testament and a big shift in the mind of the mankind had to happen. In her other hand she is holding a symbol of sacrifice in the Old Testament. The donkey she is sitting on has cut neck and front knees. He is not able to move and to see any more, the world could not change only with the help of the Old Testament. Adam and Eva are shown with the scene of the original sin.

In the middle the cross of Christ is changing the time and sets the beginning of a new era. Out of the skull of Adam, out of the death and the old broken world starts a new one, a better one – the New Testament. That’s why he is leaning towards the New Testament and giving it the start. On the top of the cross is the word ADAM. It symbolizes that the Adam from the Old Testament acted against God’s will and that Christ acted according to it. That’s why God’s hand is blessing the New Testament on the left side of the sign Adam.

On the left hand side of the cross is the New Testament. It is symbolized by a queen’s statute sitting on a four legged animal. She is also holding a flag in her hand, but it isn’t broken and is decorated on the top by a cross. She wears queen’s crown on her head. The New Testament overcame the old one and is ruling in the world. The animal she is sitting on has four different heads and four different legs for the four evangelists – human, eagle, bull and a lion. This animal is very strong compared to the weak donkey on the right. It manages to keep aside the bad spirits with his paw. This are staring behind the cross and are controlling the donkey. In the top left corner is a small house’s gate, being opened by a hand with a key. It symbolizes the death and the resurrection of the Jesus. Jesus sacrifices himself and brings the heaven on Earth for all of us.

After having heard the explanation I felt the whole spirituality and truth of this story and fell in love with this fresco. This was one of my greatest spiritual experiences ever and one of the nicest church visits I’ve ever had.