The back wall of the Deir Mar Musa church is decorated with an elaborate scene of the righteous in paradise and the evil doers in hell.


Left side of the Medieval painting showing paradise. Ektachrome slide taken and digitized by Prof. David Hanlon (Art Dept, STLCC-MC).


Right side of the Medieval painting showing hell. Ektachrome slide taken and digitized by Prof. David Hanlon (Art Dept, STLCC-MC). The artist painted the right side of the mural with the allies of the devil (who is defaced). Included were Muslims (orangish robes and wearing turbans), Mandeans (behind the Muslims with identical robes but bareheaded), Jews (black robed and bare headed), Pagans (black robed and conical hats) and even Christians belonging to other theological traditions. The Christians wearing white kutino (Syriac, robe) and a white uroro (Syriac, stole worn by clergy) have an uncanny resemblance to Greek Orthodox theologians (see Andreas Stylianou and Judith A. Stylianou, 1964, The Painted churches of Cyprus, Figure 14). The Christians in gray robes with white stoles may be an attempt to represent Roman Catholic theologians. Coptic Christian theologians are not included in the list of evil Christians because they were allies to the Syrian Othodox and were very close in almost all theological issues. The conical hats of the pagans may be a actual portrayal or an imaginary one. The black conical hats resemble the conical white hats worn by pagan priests shown in a wall painting that decorated the Temple of the Palymrene gods at the site of Dura Europos (specifically the mural showing the sacrifice of Konon which is number C.1599 in the Syrian National Museum in Damacus and illustrated in Syrie: Memoire et Civilization, 1993, page 291).


A niche in the wall of the church would have contained a relic of Saint Moses the Ethiopian. Painted around the niche is a scene where the Devil encourages a demon to try and tip the balace in the weighing of a soul. Fortunately, a saint is able to exert more force than the demon.



Detail of the dog-like demon trying to tip the balance. The white lines around the demon represent the sulphur fumes of hell.


Sinners tortured in hell by snakes invading their body through the eye, ear, nose, mouth, etc.








Turbaned Muslim scholars as shown in the frescoe. Variations in beard color and style was probably an artic way of saying the most ancient, fairly recent, and modern theologians.







Representations of Mandeans (?) in the scene of heaven and hell. Variations in beard color and style was probably an artic way of saying the most ancient, fairly recent, and modern theologians.







The left side of the mural can be seen with images of Virgin Mary and Patriachs holding the blessed souls (as little heads) to their bosoms. Paradise is complete with the trees of the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve (she is identified by her name in Syriac) are shown directly above archangels Michael and Gabriel who at the trumpet the Last Judgment.







Slightly out of focus full view of the back wall with the scenes of paradise and hell.