Monday, May 18, 2009

Chicago: The Churches of Ukranian Village

I finally left Polonia for the Ukrainian Village. The rest of the day proved to be one of walking and walking and more walking! First I came to the Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral. The church was locked but as I walked away from the rectory a man came to the door and asked if I would like to see the inside of the church. Boy was I glad he appeared!

The church was founded in 1892.St. John Kochurov contracted to have the church designed and built by Louis Sullivan. In fact, this is the only Sullivan church left in the world. Father John Kochurov returned to Russia and was martyred by the Bolsheviks. This church is a city landmark and deserves to be. The inside is beautiful. The chandlers, icons, iconostasis are all bright and other worldly. My favorite icon is of St. John shaking hands with Louis Sullivan as they plan the church. I rarely think of icons representing modern times.

I then walked past St. George Russian Orthodox Church. I am surprised because while there is no one around the church is open. I go in and quietly view the church. Again, it is breath-taking. It is clear to me that I much prefer the art of the East in church design to the art of the West.

I then walk down Division Street toward Oakley. Division Street is wonderful. It is full of outdoor cafes, restaurant, beer gardens and specialty shops. People are out walking their dogs, meeting friends and shopping. As I turn down Oakley the atmosphere changes. It is still a delightful neighborhood. However, it changes from being a yuppie neighborhood to an ethnic neighborhood. The Ukrainian language or English with thick accents is heard everywhere.

First I come up to St. Volodymir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral. It is huge. It clearly was not always an Orthodox church. However, they made sure when they claimed it to place mosaic pictures on the outside. This is the center of Orthodoxy and Orthodoxy is by far the largest religious denomination in Ukrainian society. I repeatedly come back to this church but it is closed and I never get to see the inside of it.

As I walk down the street I view these green onion domes. It is as if I am in Russia (sorry Ukrainian readers!). I come up to St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral. It is also enormous. I can see it from blocks way. Inside are chandeliers, icons, pillars. I attend a part of vespers. This is a magnificent church.

However, across the street is yet another church, the St. Volodymyr and Olha Parish Cathedral. It has gold domes. If the first church looked like Red Square this one looks like Constantinople. This distinct segment of Ukrainian Catholicism has its own cathedral because of a wish to more fully follow the rites of the east. This includes following the Julian calendar. The inside of the church is bright blue. This highlights all of the icons and especially the huge iconostasis. I stay for Ukrainian vespers. I do not understand it by Dr. Adam Deville gave me a CD of the Divine Liturgy and this is all familiar. I love this church and wish I could stay longer.

I had a great time see so many churches in one day. That is not the end of my day. I also visited the Ukrainian National Museum and ate a traditional Ukrainian meal. That however is for another entry.

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