Some churches possess a simple and elegant beauty while others, richly adorned with frescoes and colourful stained-glass windows, are stunning in their beauty.
Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Parish, on the corner of Watt Street and Munroe Avenue, is stunning. Designed by the famous Belgian priest, Father Philip Ruh, it was built in 1954.
Natural earthtones from the woodwork and the walls lend a warm and welcoming touch to the otherwise awe-inspiring grandeur of the place.
Recently, the congregation has realized its dream of acquiring a "new" iconostas from an Ontario monastery that was closing.
"We'd been talking about having an iconostas. When we got wind of the closing the Bishop of Toronto was open to it," says Father Michael Kwiatkowski, Holy Eucharist's pastor, who grew up in Brandon, worked in Ukraine and studied in Rome.
"We never had one... the amazing thing is that it was almost as though it was planned. It fits perfectly, the colour, the woodwork, the size."
The iconostas sits between the sanctuary and the rest of the church.
"In the eastern church we want to distinguish the sanctuary from the rest of the church -- for it is holy," says Father John Sianchuk during a seminar at the church. "This is a very holy place and that is why it is covered."
Kwiatkowski said he believes Deacon Christopher Kutz, a Studite monk from Ukraine, "wrote" the icons on the iconostas. "They were painted by the artist toward the end of his life," he says. "One of his concerns was that he would finish it before he died. He did."
The elaborate woodcarving was done by a Serbian Orthodox woodcarver, Vladimir Barac, he adds. "He was concerned about the quality of his work as he was already experiencing partial blindness due to cataracts. He died shortly after completing it."
"The images are not just randomly placed images," says Sianchuk. "Always, Jesus is on the right and Mary is on the left... on the royal doors are the four evangelists. The colours are important... red signifies divine life and blue, humanity."
What is remarkable, too, is that this church is the result of so many noted artists whose work seems to blend together effortlessly.
Ruh, the architect of this striking church with the dark onion domes, was famous for designing many beautiful churches.
The enormous frescoes were painted by Sviatoslav Hordynsky, says Kwiatkowski. Considered one of the greats of Ukrainian fine art, Hordynsky was deaf but overcame it with his intellect and creativity.
The richly coloured windows with the hauntingly expressive faces were done by renowned Winnipeg artist Leo Mol. While the frescoes are more "typical Byzantine art," the windows are more typical of western art, says Kwiatkowski. Roman Kowal designed one of the windows as well, he says.
Roughly 15 windows were designed by Lucinda Doran of Prairie Stained Glass in Winnipeg. They were designed to fit in with the existing style of the church as well as Mol's windows.
To view the church, call 204-667-8866.
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