church of St John the Theologian - Kaneo
Located on the
southwestern side of the hill surmounting Lake Ohrid is the church dedicated to St. John
the Theologian - Kaneo. It is not certain when it was built and fresco painted. However, a
document about the church property suggests that it was built before 1447.
This old church is in a cruciform shape with rectangle basis. It has
three-sided apse on the eastern side and an octagonal dome. It should be underlined that
the structure is harmonious and it is highly successful in the ornamental shaping of the
facades and the dome. The architecture of the church is important when studying the
medieval monuments of culture. The broadly accepted viewpoint is that the constructor
achieved a highly successful combination of Byzantine and Armenian architectural elements.
In the period before the arrival of the Turks on the Balkans, the
spiritual life in the church St. Jovan Zlatoust was quite developed. However, gradually
that spiritual life declined in the following few centuries, and even the church itself
At the end of XIX century many reconstructions of the
structure and fresco paintings of the church were carried out. A new wooden iconostasis
was constructed, and at the very beginning of the XX century several Saints as well as the
Virgin Mary was portrayed on the main apse.
The portrait of Christ Pantocrator (Almighty), surrounded by eight
flying angels was painted in the dome. Portraits of the Prophets cover the sections
between the windows.
In the upper zone of the altar space is the scene of "The Apostles
Communion" depicting the angels in royal robe, an image quite unusual for Byzantine
painting. Another exceptional element is the presence of the decor in the background of
the scenes. This is a characteristic of the works of Michael and Eutychius.
The portrait of St. Clement of Ohrid stands out from the frieze filled
with portraits of archpriests down to their waists. To his right is the portrait of St.
Erasmus of Ohrid. Apparently, such positioning was not accidental. Namely, the work of St.
Erasmus is linked to the conversion of the population in this region to Christian belief
as early as the III century, and St. Clement was the first Slav teacher and educator of
the Christianism. Next to these two is the portrait of Constantine Cavassila, an esteemed
figure in the history of Ohrid Archiepiscopate. His name is connected to the struggle for
strengthening the autocephality of the Archiepiscopate. He was the Archiepiscopate's
principal from 1250 to 1263.
Among the well-preserved frescoes is the portrait of
St. John the Theologian, the patron of the church, who is depicted in his natural size.
Several artists painted the frescoes of the church St. John the
Theologian - Kaneo. According to P. Miljkovic - Pepek, they were successful in
transferring the artistic tradition of the Komneni époque. This painting style stood
outside the new trends reflected in the Paleologue Renaissance that first appeared in
Ohrid itself. It is believed that the painters of the church of St. John the Theologian
were also active outside Ohrid.