Recently uncovered Gothic frescos in the Inner City Parish Church

In the heart of Budapest, there stands the medieval inner-city parish church, built on the walls of an almost 2000-year-old Roman fort. After 150 years of research it can be said that all of its artistic qualities have now been revealed. The plan was to paint the sanctuary by Easter 2010, but during the course of work on its east side, behind the main altar, a niche containing traces of early painting was discovered walled in with modern bricks. Art restorer Éva Derdák was given the task of examining the recess and its painting. The result was that two exceptionally high-quality images from two consecutive Gothic periods came to light – one of a saintly bishop, the other of an enthroned Madonna with a child standing on her knee. The latter played an important role at the time of its commissioning, as referred to by its background of azurite, the equivalent of gold, which with dazzling blue light surrounds the queen of Heaven with her decorated clothing and fleur-de-lis crown as she embraces the child with tender love. This depiction or the later Madonna image placed in front of it must have still been held in great esteem in the early 18th century. This is testified by the church’s records of the 1703 Easter procession, during which the Mary altar behind the main altar played and important role. The recently unearthed fresco of the enthroned Madonna was later whitewashed over several times. In 1723, the city had Antal Hörger’s fine sculpture of Saint Florian with its marble altar placed on the external eastern wall of the chancel under the three-part traceried Gothic window, and this was followed in 1889-90 by Imre Steindl’s historicising renovations. It could have been then that the niche with its whitewashed Madonna fresco was walled-in, remaining thus hidden right up to the present day.