Serbian White Angel fresco that traveled beyond our planet

Serbian White Angel fresco that traveled beyond our planet

3 minutes to read

Fresco White Angel is one of the most famous artworks from Serbia, that resides as the permanent decoration of the monastery Mileseva, in the southwestern part of the country. It's considered one of the best representation of European medieval religious art, and with its story, it became an international symbol of hope and peace. No wonder that White Angel fresco traveled beyond Serbia, beyond our continent, and even beyond our planet

The figure of White Angel © Credits to Meister von Mileseva
The figure of White Angel © Credits to Meister von Mileseva

The background story

The fresco is just a fragment of a larger composition called Mironosnice na Hristovom grobu (Myrrh-bearers on Christ’s Grave) in the monastery Mileseva, which became famous due to its religious art masterpiece. The fresco was originally painted in the 13th century but was hidden under another fresco painted over it in the 16th century. The White Angel remained unrevealed until the 20th century, during the restoration of the monastery, when the top painting was taken down, and it appealed to people with its brightness and beauty once again. 

Mileseva Monastery, Prijepolje
Mileseva Monastery, Prijepolje
Mileševо, Србија

The fresco is world renowned as a masterpiece of medieval religious art in Europe. The expert praised the technique in which it was done, but also it’s noble message and symbolism. Namely, the fresco shows St. Gabriel the Archangel sitting on the rock and showing the empty Christ’s grave to the Myrrh-bearers, symbolizing his miraculous resurrection and posthumous life. The central figure of Archangel, or White Angel, with a calming glare, shines out with tranquility and symbolizes peace and hope, the main principles of Christianity. 

Myrrh-bearers on Christ’s Grave © Credits to Levan Ramishvili
Myrrh-bearers on Christ’s Grave © Credits to Levan Ramishvili

Who painted it?

The painter of this important piece of art that decorates the walls of a modest Serbian monastery in the slopes of Zlatar mountain remains unknown to this day. The invaluable for the world art history, the sources suggest that it might have been painted by Greek painters who studied art in Nikaia and Constantinople in the 13th century. 

Zlatar Mountain
Zlatar Mountain

Bridging Europe and America

Upon its rediscovery in the 20th century, the fresco was widely recognized in the whole world as an international symbol of peace and hope. During the discoveries of a satellite television signal in 1962, the nations of Europe decided to express greetings and send a satellite signal to North America praising peace, hope, and support. This was the first satellite signal recorded in history between the two continents. The signal contained the picture of The White Angel fresco, and this was just the first stop in its long journeys.

Illustration of satellite being sent to space © Credits to NASA Ames
Illustration of satellite being sent to space © Credits to NASA Ames

How White Angel got sent to space?

Later on, the White Angel fresco was chosen once again for the message that it carries to be sent to space in hope to establish the communication with the aliens. A symbol of peace and hope to represent humanity - it’s something to cherish and be proud of. Within years, it was sent multiple times to space, but no response has been recorded yet.

Whether someone is religious or not, it is a totally individual thing, but as human beings, the concept of peace and hope comes naturally to us. If you find yourself in western Serbia, I encourage you to visit Mileseva Monastery and have a few minutes with the White Angel fresco, regardless of your religious choices. It’s too precious to miss, and who knows, maybe its message of hope finally travels and reaches the other beings, somewhere beyond our planet

Cover photo  © Credits to Travel to Serbia / Twitter

The author

Milena Mihajlovic

Milena Mihajlovic

I am Milena, and enjoy traveling, hiking and everything coffee-related. Through my writing, I want to inspire fellow travelers about Serbia, my dear country.

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