The Ukrainian Catholic
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Located in the historic Northern Liberties district in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was erected in 1966 through the effort of
Ukrainian Catholics in America. This magnificent edifice, designed
by Julian K. Jastremsky, replaced the old Cathedral Church which had
been purchased in 1907 by Bishop Sotor Stephen Ortynsky, O.S.B.M.,
the first bishop of Ukrainian Catholics.
The present Cathedral, constructed to reflect authentic Byzantine
architecture, is built in the same style as Hagia Sofia (St.
Sophia) Cathedral in Constantinople (present day Istanbul, Turkey).
It also mirrors the beauty and richness of the religious and
cultural heritage of the Ukrainian people. Basic geometric forms
were purposely and consistently used to develop the character of the
building. Almost no ornamentation is needed, though the completion
of the interior embellishments is an ongoing process which will
continue over the years.
The limestone and architectural concrete structure is 172 feet in
length, 128 feet wide, and 106 feet high. The most impressive
feature of the Cathedral is the central dome, which is 100 feet in
diameter. It's exterior is covered with 1/4 inch square Venetian
glass tiles made of 22 karat gold fused in glass. The dome's
interior portrays a mosaic of the Pantocrator (Christ, the
Almighty ruler). The dome seemingly rests on 32 windows, depicting
the coat of arms of regions of Ukraine, and the popes, bishops and
religious orders who contributed to the growth of the Ukrainian
Catholic church in the United States. The zig-zag design seen in the
windows above the arches is a wheat motif.
The great mosaic on the sanctuary wall honors the patroness of
the Cathedral, the Theotokos (Birth-Giver of God). Below the
mosaic of the Mother of God is a mosaic of the Last Supper. To the
right, is a mosaic of Emmaus (Christ meeting the two
disciples on the road to Emmaus. The disciples recognized Our Lord
by the "breaking of the bread". To the left of the Last
Supper mosaic, where the Preparatory table is placed, is a mosaic of
the Visitation of the Holy Trinity (three angels sharing a meal)
from the Old Testament. The sanctuary windows depict 12 angels, each
with six wings as described in the prophetic vision of Isaiah.
The Iconostas (icon screen), which separates the sanctuary
from the Nave (body of the church) was designed by Chrystyna
Dochwat. In the middle of the iconostas are the Royal Doors on which
there is an icon of the Annunciation (Archangel Gabriel bearing the
Good News that Mary would become Mother of God). Below this, are the
icons of the four Evangelists (Gospel writers): St. Matthew
(top left), St. Mark (bottom left), St. Luke (top right) and St.
John (bottom right).
The smaller doors on the Iconostas are called the Deacon Doors.
To the right of the Royal Doors you see following Icons: Christ the
Teacher, St. Stephen the First-Martyr (on the deacon door), and St.
John the Baptist. To the left of the Royal Doors, you see the
following icons: Mother of God with the infant Jesus, St. Michael
the Archangel (on the deacon door), and St. Nicholas the
Immediately above the Royal Doors is the icon of the Last Supper.
At the very top center of the Iconostas a depiction of the
crucifixion with the beloved disciple John and Mary the Mother of
God present. Below that is the icon of Christ the King.
The crypt (housed under the Sanctuary of the Cathedral) contains
the earthly remains of three bishops: Bishop Soter Stephen Ortynsky,
OSBM (+March 24, 1916), Metropolitan-Archbishop Constantine
Bohachevsky (+January 6, 1961) and Metropolitan-Archbishop Ambrose
Senyshyn, OSBM (+September 11, 1976).
When the Cathedral cornerstone was laid on October 16, 1966, a
stone from the tomb of St. Peter the Apostle was placed therein.
This stone was given to Archbishop Ambrose Senyshyn by Pope Paul VI
for the Cathedral as a fitting symbol of the unity of faith of the
Ukrainian people with the Apostolic Roman See. This unity of faith
is all the more apparent in the honor accorded Ukrainian Catholics
by the visit of the Supreme Pontiff, His Holiness John Paul II to
this, our Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Philadelphia on Thursday,
October 4, 1979.
The Sixth Archbishop of The Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of
Philadelphia for Ukrainians and Metropolitan of the Ukrainian
Catholic Church in the United States of America is The Most Reverend
Stefan Soroka. He was enthroned on February 27, 2001, succeeding
Most Reverend Stephen Sulyk, Archbishop Emeritus.
- Nave, front to back, not including sanctuary_______________90
- Nave, across middle of church________________________104 ft.
- Senctuary________________________________________42 ft.
by 42 ft.
- Height of dome, floor to mosaic_______________________106 ft.
- Height of sanctuary_________________________________106 ft.
- Seating capacity, including choir loft____________________1,810
Click on thumbnail to enlarge