Ukrainian Byzantine Rite
Architects Hills, Gilbertson, Fisher and Born drew preliminary sketches of the current church in the Byzantine style in 1969. The parish wanted the new church to preserve the Ukrainian cultural heritage. In traditional Ukrainian style, it is in the shape of a cross. The upper arm of the cross forms the sanctuary.
Saint Constantine's has 5 domes. Each dome is topped with a cross. The 5 dome crosses as well as the one over the entrance were purchased by individuals and organizations. The crosses were blessed and as the one over the entrance was raised, Thy Cross We Venerate, O Master and Thy Resurrection we Glorify was sung. The crosses were blessed by the Most Reverend Wasyl Welychkowsky, the Bishop of the underground Church in Ukraine. He arrived in the US a few months earlier after 13 years of Soviet imprisonment. The crosses are symbolic of the close ties between the Ukrainian Rite Catholics in the United States and the persecuted Church in Ukraine.
The Center Dome is finished in a mosaic of nearly 7000 glazed pieces of clay roofing tile. The colors, blue, gold, white, black and red are arranged in an Ukrainian design. The dome is a memorial to the youth of the parish.
There are 4 bells. The main bell is named Michael after St. Michael the Archangel.
The sanctuary is where the Divine Liturgy occurs. It symbolizes heaven. Only the priest and his assistants are permitted to enter the sanctuary. It is 2 steps higher than the rest of the church. It faces east symbolizing that Christ's teaching disperses darkness, just as the rising sun does.
The sanctuary symbolizes heaven and faces east because just like the light of the rising sun disperses darkness, so does Christ's teaching. The concave ceiling above the sanctuary (or the back dome above the altar) is the Golden Sky. In the Eastern Church, the golden sky represents eternity. Inset in the golden sky is an mosaic icon of a young Jesus Christ. This image was chosen in remembrance that our parish was dedicated for the protection and preservation of our youth in our Parish and in our Rite. Jesus is in the center of a star. This image should remind us Christ was victorious through His suffering. The points of the star show the instruments of His Passion:
The banner around the Golden Sky reads: Glory to God in the Highest and Peace on earth among men of good will. Luke 3:14. Between the words is a painting of the Lamb of God, symbolizing the Great Host or Ahnetz. The banner is decorated in Ukrainian design.
At the top, midpoint of the Golden Sky is the Holy Spirit as a dove.
The main altar is a solid square table made of marble. It is where the Divine Liturgy is offered, during which Christ becomes physically present in the Holy Eucharist. The four sides symbolize the 4 parts of the world, North, East, South and West. The altar is covered with the katasarka (Greek) or Prepoltye (Ukrainian), a white, embroidered linen cloth. It symbolizes the cloth the Body of Jesus was wrapped in when He was placed in His tomb. The altars were constructed by Professor Ugo Mazzei and and Arcimede Alberti of Rome, Italy. Above the main altar is the Creation mosaic. The center is God the Father surrounded by 6 scenes depicting the 6 days of creation.
The Left altar is where the priest prepares for the Divine Liturgy. The image above the left altar is of the Nativity of our Lord. It was painted by Maestro Mychajlo Dmytrenko, an artist from Detriot, Michigan. He was born in Kiev, Ukraine.
The Kyvot (tabernacle) is a gold miniature replica of Saint Constantine's Church with the 4 evangelists in the corners. Within the tabernacle, the Holy Eucharist is preserved.
The Eucharist Painting
The back curved wall behind the altar, shows Jesus Christ distributing the Eucharist. The idea for this painting was borrowed from a similar painting in Saint Sophia's Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine. Above the Eucharist are the words: Take Eat, This is My Body. Drink of This, all of you, This is My Blood. Matthew 26:26. The Saints from left to right are:
Below the Eucharist, is a painted triptych symbolizing that Jesus Christ conquered
Satan by His death on the Cross. It is a reminder to us, that as Christians,
with Christ, we can conquer the problems in our life. In the 1st and 3rd panels
is painted a Cross with ICXC (first letters of the Greek work for Jesus Christ)
HIKA (to conquer, be victorious) and images of fish. The Greek word for fish
is composed of the intial letters of the phrase: Jesus Christ Son of God, Savior.
The 2nd panel has peacocks which symbolize immortality and resurrection.
Jesus and the Children
On the left side wall of the sanctuary, above the door to the sacristy, there is a painting of Jesus with children dressed in traditional Ukrainian clothes. The inscription reads: Let the Children come to Me. Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 19:14. The image is framed with painting of crosses, vines and wheat.
On the right side wall of the Sanctuary, above the door to the altar boy room, there is a painting showing esus Christ addressing a young man with the words Follow Me, as an answer on how to reach eternal life. Luke 18:22. The image is framed with painting of crosses, vines and wheat.
The Sanctuary ceiling ends in an arch which extends over the iconostas. This arch symbolizes triumph and passing from this world to eternal life.
Iconostas (or iconostasis)
The white marble Iconostas was constructed by Professor Ugo Mazzei and and Arcimede Alberti of Rome, Italy. Iconostas were developed in the Slavic lands, soon after Ukraine converted to Christianity. It separates the sanctuary from the nave. Thus, is built in front of the sanctuary. The soleia is the marble floor in front of the iconostas. In front of the soleia, the faithful receive Holy Communion. The icons on the iconostas from left to right are:
The Nave is the section of the church where the faithful gather for worship.
The small table in front of the Royal doors of the iconostas is the tetrapod. It has a cross, candles and an icon. The icon shows the feast of the day. The Sacraments of Baptism/Confirmation and Marriage as well as other blessings, such as panakhyda, parastas are performed at the tetrapod.
The center dome image is Christ as the Acapolyptic Pantocrator - the image of Christ holding the Gospel in His left hand, while His right hand is lifted in blessing. The letters IC (Jesus) and XP (Christ). The image is surrounded by a the Star of Bethlehem, an 8 pointed star. 28 Saints in stained glass are below the Pantocrator on the walls of the dome. Around the base of the dome is an inscription: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind and love thy neighbors as thyself. Luke 10:27.
The main dome is supported by 4 arches. The corners of the arches form 4 triangles which are covered in gold leaf. The images are the 4 evangelists (left to right facing front):
Above the altar on the left side of the nave is an mosaic icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It was created by Professor Ugo Mazzei, a well known expert in Byzantine religious art. The rosette above the left nave chandelier is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and has images symbolizing her painted on the ceiling. At the back of the left nave are the confessionals.
Right NaveAbove the altar on the left side of the nave is an mosaic icon of Saints Constantine and Helena, the patron saints of the church. It was created by Professor Ugo Mazzei, a well known expert in Byzantine religious art. The rosette above the right nave chandelier is dedicated to Jesus Christ and has images symbolizing Him painted on the ceiling. At the back of the right nave is the crying room.
Left and Right Side Entrance Door Walls
The ornamental painted design and the stained glass windows are combined into one artistic composition. The vine branches symbolize eternal life. The stained glass windows are images of Ukrainian Saints, including Saint Borys, Saint Hleb and Saint Josaphat.
On the rear, left wall of the nav is a painting of the Pieta.
The Choir Loft
The rear stained glass window shows events from the Christianization of Ukraine. The choir loft rosette above the chandelier, is painted with:
The inscription below the choir loft railing reads: For I have chosen and have sanctified this place, that My name be there forever and My eyes and My heart may remain there perpetually. 2 Paralipomenon (2 Chronicles) 7:16