In 2015, the Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God celebrated its 15th anniversary.

This is the only active Catholic church in Irkutsk, but it’s not the first one. In the late 19th – early 20th centuries, the congregation prayed in the Roman Catholic Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. That church was built in 1884 in a neo-Gothic style, which was a rare style for Siberia. The services were held until 1930s. After that, the congregation was disbanded and the interior was rebuilt beyond recognition. The building was used to house the Eastern Siberian film studio and, from 1978 to the present day, the Organ Hall of the Philharmonia.

The Catholic community has repeatedly tried to return to the historical building. They were refused again and again, and the need for a new church continued to grow. In 1998, the government suggested several places for the construction. Bishop Jerzy Mazur chose the area in front of the Irkutsk State Technical University.

The history of the Cathedral

Irkutsk Catholic Cathedral
Irkutsk Catholic Cathedral (photo by Denis Kurenkov)
After the place was selected, several events followed in rapid succession.

On May 18th, 1999, Irkutsk became a center of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Administration of Eastern Siberia, led by Bishop Jerzy Mazur.

On April 28th, 1999, a service on the site of the future cathedral was held to mark the pilgrimage of the relics of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in Russia.

On June 10th, 1999, the construction began.

On September 5th, 1999, Archbishop John Bukovsky consecrated the cornerstone of the cathedral.

On April 21st, 2000, on Good Friday, a cross was consecrated and installed to crown the building. On September 2nd, the bells, made by Feldzhinskih factory in Przemysl, were installed.

On September 8th, 2000, Irkutsk Catholics finally got their church. On this day, the consecration ceremony took place.

On September 24th, 2011, the cathedral got an organ, and the liturgies and holiday concerts started to sound much more solemn. Masses are held in the church every day: at 18:00 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, at 09:00 on Tuesdays and at 11:30 and 18:00 on Sundays.

Architecture and interior of the church

Irkutsk Catholic Cathedral
Irkutsk Catholic Cathedral (photo by Denis Kurenkov)
The author of this project is a Polish architect Andrzej Chwalibog. Its chief designer is Lidiya Nesterova. Space planning solutions were developed by Irkutsk architects Oleg Badula and Vladimir Stegailo. A Polish sculptor Vincent Kuchma designed the interior for the altar part of the church and the chapel of Reconciliation and Peace.

The laconic building of the cathedral was raised in the perfect Constructivism style. At the front of the church, two tall towers, one of them a bell tower, are connected with a bridge that looks like a miter. A miter is headdress of the senior Catholic clergy. A radiant cross rises above the two towers.

The chapel of Reconciliation and Peace stand to the right of the entrance. Inside the chapel, a figure of Jesus Christ stands as if floating in the air, surrounded by 14 marble slabs that represent 14 stations of the Cross.

An inscription that says «Veni Sante Spiritus» («Come, Holy Spirit!”) and holy water fonts greet the visitors at the church entrance. The chapel of Divine Mercy with ancient icons in on the right. The central part of the cathedral features the sculptures of the patron saints Our Lady of Fatima and St. Joseph the Betrothed. The main part has an altar with seven candles. A red line runs through the entire interior of the church. It symbolizes the love of God, which the believers take to carry on into the world.

Interesting facts

  • The legate of the Pope, His Eminence Cardinal Jan Peter Schotte, the head of the Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, attended the mass held in honor of the opening of the cathedral.
  • The building of the cathedral is laid with the stones from Golgotha, Tabor, Nazareth and Fatima; the relics of the Holy Cross, St. Theresa, Child Jesus and St. Raphael Kalinowski. On its 15th anniversary, the cathedral received a part of the relics of Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko from Cardinal Casimir Nycha of the Warsaw Metropolitan.
  • The largest bell weights 550 kilograms. The bell, bearing the name of the Holy Family, has its own motto that says, “Take care of our families”.
  • The central altar of the temple is made of Baikal jade.
  • Urns with the earth from the mass graves of victims of political repression lie under the slabs in the chapel of Reconciliation and Peace.

Contacts

Working hours

near the “Technichesky universitet” bus stop, 110, Griboyedov St., Sverdlovsky region
+7 39-52 41-09-43
katedra@curiacat.irk.ru
curiacat.irk.ru
VK page
from 9:00 to 18:00

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