St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Edmonton was established in 1902 by Rev. Sozont Dydyk, OSBM, one of the first Ukrainian Catholic missionaries in Western Canada. As the number of parishioners increased the original structure of the church was enlarged in 1913, and served the Ukrainian Catholic community of Edmonton for the following 26 years.
Rev. Sozont Dydyk, OSBM
Rev. Sozont Dydyk served the parish until 1923 and was succeeded by Rev. Basil Ladyka, OSBM, who began plans for further expansion of the parish church. In 1929 Rev. Basil Ladyka was appointed Bishop of Canada and Rev. Sozont Dydyk returned as parish priest whereupon he continued with expansion plans. Under the supervision of Rev. Philip Ruh, an architect, construction of the present building began in 1939.
In keeping with the Byzantine Rite, the brick building was erected in the form of a cross with seven cupolas, the largest reaching the height of 100 feet. The cupolas symbolize the Seven Sacraments and the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The interior is divided into three main parts: the vestibule (entrance), the nave (main body), and the sanctuary, (the altar area).
The main structure was completed in 1947 and the solemn dedication of the church took place on June 3, 1947, with His Eminence Eugene Cardinal Tisserant of Rome officiating, assisted by the Most Rev. Neil Savaryn and many clergy.
When the Most Rev. Neil Savaryn was appointed the first Ukrainian Catholic Bishop for Alberta and British Columbia in 1948, St. Josaphat’s Church was raised to the status of a cathedral by the Holy See.
In 1951 Julian Bucmaniuk, and his son, undertook the painting of the interior of the new cathedral using tempera which consisted of grumbacher powder, eggs, milk, linseed oil and carbonic acid. They covered the walls and ceilings of St. Josaphat’s with richly colored murals and frescoes. The paintings portray major events of the life of Christ, the Mother of God, Apostles and Saints.
In 1968 St. Josaphat’s Cathedral was enhanced with the construction of an iconostas, a wooden screen or wall covered with icons that portray the life of Christ including parts of the Old Testament. The icon of the Mother of God in the lower portion of the iconostas is the only work of Julian Bucmaniuk, because of his untimely death in 1967 he was unable to complete the iconostas. A former student of his, Parascevia Ivanec, painted five icons on the lower portion of the iconostas and the small icons on the Royal Doors. L. Denysenko, an artist, painted the icons in the upper portion and completed the iconostas in its entirety.
In 1984 the cathedral was declared a historical site by Mary LeMessurier, Minister of Alberta Culture.