The painted wonders of Borgo San Marco
New discovers emerged in the cave church of the fortified masseria
In the cave church placed at the rear of Borgo San Marco (owned by Dr. Alessandro Amati and recently restored by Mrs Nori Meo Evoli) some important and beautiful frescos, never seen before, were discovered. Those images of Saints and medieval writings have been hidden since years, perhaps centuries, underneath a whitewash and plaster blanket.
First of all, it must be mentioned a new writing never seen before, which has emerged magically just closed the Christ Pantocrator, blessing in the Greek manner, enclosed on both sides by the Saints Doctors, Cosmo and Damian. On the right side of the Christ, the writing appeared says "MEMENTO D(OMI)NE / FAMULA TUA/ DESPINA" (i.e. "Remember, Almighty God, your truly devoted Despina"). Therefore, the purchaser was a woman named Despina, who was so rich to commission a so well painted cycle of frescos and, for this reason, a bit expensive too (XII- XII cent.).
This "female purchaser" is so unusual in that period of time and it also declares the high economic power which belongs to this woman: something very unusual because the role of the male as the primary authority figure is central to that kind of social organization (late middle Ages).
On the south wall of the cave church of San Marco were discovered other images (even if the low part has been lost): they are a bearded saint Bishop with a crosier and a prelate headcloth and a female figure (perhaps coming from the East) with a gold diadem on her head and wrapped in a drapery.
You can clearly see the letters "NO" and "PE": for this reason, it is supposed that they might be Saint Norbert (a saint coming from the middle-north Europe) and Saint Pelagia (coming from the middle east). If so, once again the nearby territory preserved traces of an Eastern and Western Christianety mixed together, as the Christian faith was united into a same Creed, in a same holy temple. But it's still not enough.....
In the same cave church it has been found another writing: it's a Greek name, Στέφανος, (STEFANOS) which clearly hint at Saint Stephen 's cult. The rest of the fresco (placed at Saint Norbert's left) has now re-emerged: the protomartyr of Christianity is kneeling while he's stoned to death by a certain number of people depicted while throwing stones at him.
The keeping of this part is pretty bad, but Saint Stephen's figure is almost clear.
Then, this last Saint is strictly linked to the other two figures of Saints (the Saints Doctors, Cosmo and Damian) because he had a reputation as a healer of the sick too and mentioned in many intercessory prayers in Byzantium.