Ο σπηλαιώδης ναός του Προδρόμου κοντά στη Χρύσαφα της ΛακεδαίμονοςPart of : Δελτίον της Χριστιανικής Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας ; Vol.33, 1991, pages 179-196
The Cave-chapel of the Forerunner near Chrysafa in Lacedaemonia
Before arriving at the village of Chrysafa, a countryroad turns right and later changes into a uphill pathleading after some one-and-a-half hours to the small,elongated cave-chapel of St. John the Forerunner.Remnants of the founder's inscription can be seen onthe masonry templon screen. A fragment of the dateappears at the end of the inscription, which has beenreconstructed to a year between 1191/2 and 1290/1. Themore precise dating of the church will be facilitated bystudy of the wall-paintings, which are at the momentblack with soot. The natural rock incline to the southserves as most of the roof.Saints are painted low on the dressed flanking wallswhich cover the natural cave face; amongst them are theArchangel Michael, the Virgin with the Christ Child,and St. John the Forerunner whose ornate stamped halo indicates the influence of Crusader art and is alsoencountered in churches of the Mani dated to about1300. The manner in which light emanates from the faceof the Archangel Michael is reminiscent of the Platyteraand St. George in Vathy Kisamos, Crete (1284). Thesymmetry which dominates the face of St. Symeon theFool on behalf of Christ, a figure of severely geometricsymmetry with straight schematically rendered hair, isreminiscent of St. Zacharias in the church of the samename in Lagia in the Mani (final quarter of the 13thcentury). St. Marina hits a winged devil with a hammer,a common iconographical motif in the 13th century.In the roof, compound scenes, much blackened, depictthe Birthday of Herod, the Decapitation of the Forerunner, with his headless body standing upright (as inthe Chrisafitissa church dated 1290), and the Nativity.The associations made above lead to the conclusionsthat the date of the founder's inscription should fall inthe last quarter of the 13th century.A little further down from the cave, on the slope's descent, are the ruins of a small single-cell vaulted chapel ofSt. Demetrios, which preserves a few traces of wallpainting of about the same period, executed, however,by the hand of another painter: these depict the Platytera, the Theotokos in the Annunciation, St. John Chrysostom and St. Nikon.