First Liturgy celebrated in unique Donbass church whose construction was interrupted by war

Horlivka, the Ukraine’s Donetsk region, April 26, 2016


On Palm Sunday, April 24, four hierarchs celebrated the first Liturgy at the main church of the Theophany Cathedral of Horlivka (the Donetsk region), reports Interfax-Religion.

The service was headed by Metropolitan Hilarion of Donetsk and Mariupol, Metropolitan Mitrofan of Horlivka and Sloviansk, Archbishop Varnava of Makiyivka and Bishop Varsonofy of Novoazovsk, reports the local diocese’s press service.

“Today Metropolitan Mitrofan has given the Lord, Who is going to His voluntary passion, this present – this wonderful cathedral which was created with such taste! It is an amazing gift to God and to all of us in the days of anticipation of Holy Pascha! Your Eminence, let me cordially thank you for your ability to give marvelous presents not only to your neighbors, but also to the Almighty! We have no church in the whole of Donbass that can rival this one!” Metropolitan Hilarion said after the service.

Nearly eight years passed from the laying of the foundation till the opening of the upper church. In July 2008 the deceased Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine laid the cornerstone for the church, and it was he who also consecrated its lower church in honor of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church which later opened on Trinity Sunday – June 23, 2013.

The cathedral’s lower church of the Russian New Martyrs and Confessors The cathedral’s lower church of the Russian New Martyrs and Confessors

The cathedral’s outer lining is of natural white stone brought from the Inkerman stone quarries near Sevastopol. The bas-reliefs are made of the same stone – seraphim against the golden background of the mosaic girdling the main dome. The cathedral’s main entrance is decorated with marble angels as well. A clock which was brought from Switzerland was installed in the belltower and chimes at every half an hour.

Work inside the upper church was suspended during the war and the shelling of the town center. In 2014-2015 several shells fell within the territory of the cathedral, one of them flying into the refectory. During the bombardment the lower church served as an air-raid shelter, and its windows are still blocked up by sandbags. A dining-room for the needy was organized at the church as well.

A marble chapel was built close to the cathedral. The square in front of the cathedral became the most beautiful corner of Horlivka: fountains, summer houses, a children’s playground was built, an artificial lake with multicolored fish appeared and pine trees along with ornamental plants were planted. The square is paved with granite of various colors.

For the comfort and convenience of city residents a bus stop was built near the cathedral and is equipped with a large screen. Church services will be transmitted there on feast days, and on other days those waiting for the bus will be able to watch an Orthodox television program.

A Sunday school for children and youth, a children and youth choir, and a patriotic association of St. Alexander Nevsky are active at the cathedral.

The upper and lower churches are connected by stairs and lifts and there is also an elevator for handicapped people. A baptistery, a vestry, a prosphora bakery, and a refectory are attached to the cathedral.

The floor, panels and iconostasis of the upper church are designed in the style of those of the ancient Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral of Florence as well as Duomo di Siena Cathedral. The icons are painted in the Byzantine style.

Translated by Dmitry Lapa


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