A universe of icons, golden backgrounds, and paintings fills the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Podgorica. Among these overflowing ornaments, as is typical of Orthodox churches, there is a fresco that aroused controversy when the church was consecrated in 2013.
Near the vaults toward the top left of the altar, you’ll discover an apocalyptic scene that, at first glance, doesn’t seem extraordinary A frightening creature swims in a burning sea and swallows people in religious garments. Look closer, though, and you’ll spot that among the same eternal flames where Adam and Eve burn are three men who many have identified as Marshal Tito, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Engels.
The three men portrayed in the fresco are the personification of a regime that persecuted the believers and the clergy. Even today, the Montenegrin population is divided between those who miss the “good old days” and those who see in communism a plague that ravaged this region for many years.
For some people, watching Tito, Marx, and Engels burning in hell is an emancipation from the oppression they suffered in the past. But some say that the resemblance to the three historical figures is rather vague and unintentional.
Although it is unusual for orthodox frescoes to depict contemporary themes, the three men are not the only politicians portrayed in the cathedral. The artist could have assumed no one would ever notice those controversial figures among the excess of decorations. Or he may have predicted the controversies his work would trigger, and this is the reason why he preferred to remain anonymous.
Know Before You Go
The fresco is hidden in the upper area of the basilica. Locating the three figures is not easy, but it can be an exciting treasure hunt.