St. Margareth bears eloquent witness to the influence of Byzantine art on the Romanesque, though this was subject to unchangeable rules: the pictures were not to be images, but representations, icons. Romanesque masters, on the other hand, turned to symbolic representations and allegories that today give us a glimpse of the medieval cosmos.
From the original building of St. Margareth Church, the round apses, with an extensive cycle of frescoes, have been preserved: In the main apse, Christ Pantocrator in a mandorla, is depicted surrounded by the four evangelist symbols and the parable of the five wise and foolish virgins. The bestiaries are located in the base zone. The paintings in the left apse show Mary with Baby Jesus and two angels as well as St. Margareth. Martyrdom, the decapitation and ascension of the saints, is depicted in the right apse. This is the oldest representation of a saint's legend in Romanesque mural painting.
Allegory of the wise and foolish virgins
In Romanesque art, the wise and foolish virgins are a symbol of the judgment of the world, the separation of good and evil. In the allegory of St. Margareth, the wise virgins are prudishly dressed, their hair tied, their clothes modest, and they carry their oil lights full. They are permitted access to paradise. The foolish virgins are fashionably dressed, vain courtly figures who are not concerned about the oil of their lamps, so that their lights go out.