Cathedral of the Holy Transfiguration in Vinnytsia
The first Orthodox church in Vinnytsia was founded in the middle of the 16th century and was named in honor of Sts. Cosmas and Damian. It was a wooden building which lasted until 1832.
For the ethnic Poles of Podillia, the historical name for the area, the suppression of the Polish uprising against the Russian Empire in 1830 resulted also in the abolishment of Catholic monasteries. In particular, the Dominican monastery in Vinnytsia was abolished by a decision of the governor-general of Kyiv, Podillia and Volyn of 19 November 1832. It was one of the ten Catholic monasteries liquidated in 1831-33 as ones that “did not answer to their intended purpose due to the small number of monks and lack of funds to support them.” Therefore, the building was passed to the Orthodox clergy and was re-named the Cathedral of the Transfiguration.
At various times, the cathedral was visited by important figures whose names are included in history. The first of them was Tsar Nicholas I with his sons Alexander and Nikolai, who visited it in 1847.
A year later, the tsar personally signed a project for reconstructing the cathedral, which started only in 1860. On 8 May 1916, the Cathedral of the Transfiguration was also visited by the last Russian emperor, Nicholas II.
The cathedral was also visited by one of the outstanding residents of Vinnytsia, Mykhailo Kotsiubynskyi, and not just visited. Kotsiubynskyi was baptized and married here. Mykola Ivanovych Pyrohov, who lived near Vinnytsia for 25 years, also did not pass it by.
The eparchial archives have information about a visit to the church of another historical character, Symon Petliura. “At the end of April 1920, Vinnytsia became the capital of the Ukrainian People’s Republic for the third time. On 5 May at 10 o’clock in the morning, the chief otaman got out of the train-car together with his military minister, Salskyi, to the sounds of a march. A choir of pupils, children of railway workers, greeted the otaman with the national anthem. At 10:15, Petliura arrived at the cathedral.”
The walls of the shrine also remember the visit of the head of the Polish state, Jozef Pilsudski, in 1920.
In the 20th century, the cathedral was closed twice. The first time, in 1930, it was turned into a rubber warehouse. In 1962, the church building began to be used as a sports-hall.
In the 1980s, a hall of organ and chamber music was located in the church. In 1990, by a decision of regional and city authorities, the cathedral was transferred to the church again.
In a few years, two domes were built above the facade of the church. It gave the building its present look, which looks more like an Orthodox church.
The Cathedral of the Holy Transfiguration adorns the town and its image is often used as the visiting-card of Vinnytsia.
RISU’s Ukrainian-language site posted the story on 5 February 2007.
Photo by the author