This was the Ukrainian Catholic Church of St. Elias the Prophet, in Brampton, Ontario. The media describe it as an "iconic church", and so it was -- literally -- until yesterday morning, when it burned to the ground.
St. Elias was built in the early 1990s entirely of wood, in the traditional Boyko style which originated in western Ukraine. The main timbers were Douglas fir, imported from British Columbia. The cladding was western red cedar. The cupolas were shaped in the Cossack style of the 17th century. St. Elias was one of only two churches in the world with five cupolas rather than the usual three, the other being St. George's in Drohobych, Ukraine.
St. Elias had a magnificent Iconostas (literally "Stand of icons") in front of the Sanctuary, rising all the way to the highest dome. Even the ceiling over the Sanctuary was decorated with a series of icons. At the highest point was the "Pantokrator" icon of Christ "Ruler of the All" - an icon of consolation proclaiming the ultimate victory of love.
Now all of this is gone, reduced to ashes. Here is a photo of the great church in its death throes.
The fire broke out around 7 a.m. in the basement of the church. The cause has not yet been determined. By noon, only charred pillars and mounds of ash remained.
In a press release issued later in the day, the pastor, Mitrophoric Archpriest Roman Galadza, said the loss to the church is devastating. The church originally cost $2 million to build plus significant volunteer labour. Bohdan Turetskyy, an iconographer from Ukraine, spent ten years on the interior iconography.
Said Father Galadza, "This is devastating but no one was hurt and we will rebuild. The scriptures tell us 'The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord,' so we trust in His providence even in these difficult times."
"Expressions of sympathy and support have been coming in throughout the day and from throughout the world," Father Galadza added. "They are overwhelming and much appreciated."
If you are moved -- as I hope you will be -- to contribute to the rebuilding of St. Elias, you can send your cheque, payable to "St. Elias", to Father Roman at 10193 Heritage Rd., Brampton, ON, L7A 0A1, Canada. For the time being, online donations can be given through CanadaHelps.org.
Virtual tour of St. Elias - Click here for links to a YouTube series of short videos explaining the architecture and iconography of St. Elias. You will see how it was. Please help to rebuild it, to the glory of God!