Thursday, January 03, 2013

The Rochester Cathedral Fresco

One of my favourite places to visit in Kent is Rochester Cathedral.

Virtually every time we are in Rochester we drop in for another look around and no matter how many times we've been before we always seem to notice something interesting we've previously missed.

One piece of artwork that is totally unmissable, however, is the fresco painted by Russian artist Sergey Fyodorov in 2004 to mark the 1400th anniversary of the founding of the cathedral.

The upper part of the fresco depicts the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. The dove above Jesus's head symbolises the spirit of God and the fish/sea monster represents the old pagan religions being superseded by the new religion of Christianity. Jesus is attended by angels.

Below Jesus's feet is a portrait of the Virgin Mary flanked by the two main apostles Peter and Paul and the four evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

The lower section of the fresco depicts events of great significance to Kent (and indeed British) history.

The lower left hand side of the fresco shows the Anglo Saxon King Ethelbert being baptised by Saint Augustine in 597 AD at Canterbury.

Augustine was a Christian missionary sent to Kent from Rome by Pope Gregory I - possibly at the behest of King Ethelbert's wife Bertha (who was already a Christian and daughter of Charibert, King of the Franks).

King Ethelbert later went on to establish many churches during his reign.

The lower right hand half of the fresco depicts Bishop Justus giving communion to newly baptised Anglo Saxons emerging from the River Medway.

Justus was another missionary sent from Rome to Kent in around 601 AD. In 604 AD he became the first Bishop of Rochester and in 624 AD the fourth Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Cathedral is open daily and admission is FREE.

If you have enjoyed reading this post, please feel free to leave a comment.

More posts you may like....

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell

Day Trip to Rochester

A Walk by the Thames and Medway Canal


  1. I definitely hope to explore more of Kent this year and Rochester is one of the first places I'm heading! This fresco is really interesting in that the artist painted it so recently and yet kept to the standard medieval convention of painting religious frescoes. I'd be interested to read about what his spec was and whether that was his interpretation of the wishes of the church.

  2. What a beautiful piece of artwork, thank you so much for the detailed description. I can't blame you for being drawn back time and time again, it's little wonder when the place is so breathtaking.

  3. Amazingly beautiful! My grandparents on my father's side are from Kent. I have never yet had the opportunity to visit, (I live in Canada), but all the photos and videos I have seen are stunning.

  4. King Aethelberht was later canonised for his role in establishing Christianity among the Saxons. There is full account of the history of Rochester Cathedral and King Aethelberht at