One of the most interesting problems raised by the interior and the exterior wall painting found at Probota is that of the iconographical programme. A first observation concerns the coherence of this programme. It was devised in order to fully meet all liturgical demands, as with the paniting of any Orthodox church, but at the same time it is richer and subtler than the earlier ones which date back to the time of Stephen the Great or to the period between his reign and the reign of his son, Peter Rares.
One of the most intersting and at the same time most intriguing areas from the vantage point of the iconographical programme is the tower. By and large, it follows the tradition already consecrated with the 14th-15th century churches found in the Balkan region.
The themes encountered at Probota are: the Pantokrator – in the centre of the calotte, there tiers with the Celestial Hierarchy – Cherubs,
Seraphs, Thrones, at the basis of the calotte, Dominations, Principalities, and Powers, between the windows.
At the basis of the tower we find, for the first time in Moldavia, the Celestial Liturgy, a mystical composition of the eucharistic character, celebrating the death and the burial of Christ and recalling the Exit with the Holy Gifts during Liturgy.
On the large pendants, we find paintings of the Evangelists. A reading of the programme leads us downward, towards the chancel, where the painting follows the theological commandments of the Incarnation, the Sacrifice, and the Resurrection of Christ, liturgically renewed: the Virgin with Jesus on Her Lap Adored by the Archangels, the Six Undays after the Resurrection, the Communion with Bread and of Wine, the Last Supper and the Washing of the Feet. In the prothesis, we see Jesus in the Tomb, and in the diaconicon St. John the Baptist. The last and lower tier is reserved to the Holy Hierarchs which perform the liturgy together, bowing in front of a Sacrifical Jesus featured in the recess under the window. We find here a representation without equivalent in Byzantine and post-Byzantune art: instead of a Baby Jesus, the usual Amnos, on the paten we see two severed arms.
The body to which the arms belong is carried by St. John Chrysostom, seen on the left section of the recess. The body is that of a mature Christ portrayed as a miniature and obviously with the arms severed.
The idea of cutting sends us to the cutting of the bread in the ritual of the Eucharist, also indicated by the liturgucal knife held by the Holy Bishop in his right hand. Its presence in this place and the treatment of the topic were most certainly the decision of a theologian. The same individual was responsible for the representation of the cycle of the Pentecost (the liturgical time between the Resurrection and the Descent of the Holy Spirit), which highlights in the chancel the segmentation of the liturgical year, continued with the time of the Triodyon (Lent, culminating with Easter week, the Passion and the Death of Christ – the cycle of The Passion of the Christ) in the nave and ending with the cycle of the Hymms, the time of the entire year, with the daily celebration of one or several saints and with the set feasts marked by way of the Menologium painted in the burial chamber and in the narthex. Beyond the door of the narthex, on the porch, we see the Eternity, with a spectacular Last Judgement covering the entire ceiling. The skies open and the Old One/The Ancient of Days appears, while Angels roll the carpet of the heavens which sports the symbols of the Zodiac, signs of the created time which has come to an end.
The coherent succession of these three sequences of the religious year across the various sacred spaces of the church is unique in the iconography of Moldavian churches.
Analyzed in detail, the iconographical programme of the nave, the burial chamber, the narthex, and the porch allows us to come up with detailed.
After the disappearance of the exterior wall painting of St. George's Church of Hârlau, erected in 1496 at the order of Stephen the Great and painted in 1530 at the initiative of Peter Rares 1530, Probota became the first monument fully covered by the rich decorations that made the fame of medieval Moldavia and placed some of its churches on the World Heritage List.
The novelty of this kind of exterior painting derived from the existence of an original plan devised – as with any Byzantine or post-Byzantine ensemble – by the theologians who worked together with the team of painters. Thus, themes were selected according to the nature of the message that had to be conveyed directly to the believers, and the order of their representation, far from random, came in response to an internal logic.
As compared to the rest, the paintings on the southern façade are in the best state of preservatio.