Cathedral of the Transfiguration (Markham)

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Coordinates: 43°53′39.53″N 79°22′16.17″W / 43.8943139°N 79.3711583°W / 43.8943139; -79.3711583

Former Cathedral of the Transfiguration Cathedraltown Markham, Ontario
The former Cathedral of the Transfiguration
Denomination Eastern Catholic Church
Parish Ontario
Diocese Roman Catholic Diocese of Ontario
Province Ontario

The Cathedral of the Transfiguration was a Slovak Byzantine Rite Roman Catholic cathedral located on a lot that used to be part of the Victoria Square community in Markham, Ontario, Canada. However, upon urbanization and development, the former cathedral is now unofficially designated as part of Cathedraltown in Markham, Ontario, Canada as it stands right in the centre of Cathedraltown and serves as the landmark of the Cathedraltown community. It was built in a rural area north of the city of Toronto and was built to serve Slovak Catholics throughout the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The building was conceived and funded by Stephen Boleslav Roman, a Slovak immigrant to Canada who had built up the Denison Mines corporation. Roman both funded and designed the building, modelling the structure on the church in Veľký Ruskov, the Slovak village he was raised in. The cathedral was built on a donated portion of his Romandale estate. The structure was closed as a place of Catholic worship in 2006.

Among its features is the world's largest three-bell carillon, with the French-made bells by the Fonderie Paccard, weighing 14 500 kg (32,000 pounds), and 300 cm diameter. The mosaics are reputed to contain about 5 million pieces. The building was built to hold 1000 worshippers serving a community of about 5000 Byzantine Rite Catholics in the GTA and 35,000 across Canada. The central tower rises 63 metres (about 20 storeys) and is topped by a gold onion dome. The church was designed by Donald Buttress, a renowned architect whose claim to fame is overhauling Westminster Abbey.[1] It is a significant landmark east of the 404 highway.


Work began on the Cathedral in 1984. That year it became the first church in North America to be consecrated by a Pope, when John Paul II blessed the cornerstone during his trip to Canada. Construction took several years, and ran significantly over the original budget of $13 million.

Roman died of a heart attack in 1988, and did not see the cathedral completed. His funeral service was held in the partially completed structure, with 1600 people in attendance.

On September 24, 1998, Bishop Cornelius Pasichny, OSBM, was enthroned as the new Eparch for Ukrainian Catholics in Eastern Canada (Eparchy of Toronto), with the ceremony taking place at the church.[2]

In 2006, the building was still incomplete, with estimates that completion would take another 10 years.[3]

The exterior of the Cathedral was used in the 1995 movie In the Mouth of Madness, where it portrayed the Black Church located in Hobb's End. It can also be seen on some of the posters promoting the film.

It was also featured in the 2013 Canadian independent film "Rearview" written and directed by Robert Gulassarian.

While originally built in a rural area some distance from the city, the rapidly growing Toronto suburbs now come near to the structure. In 2004 work began on Cathedraltown, a housing development of more than 1200 structures that will surround the Cathedral.


In 2006, Eparch John Pazak, head of Byzantine rite Slovak Catholics in Canada, removed the blessed sacrament and the altar stone from the structure. The bishop has also suspended permission for his priests to celebrate Mass in the former cathedral and asked the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto not to permit Roman rite priests to celebrate Mass there.

The Cathedral was closed by the bishop upon being "unable to arrive at a stable, sustainable working relationship with the Slovak Greek Catholic Church Foundation, which owns the property".[4][5][6]

Reports indicate that the last service was June 25, 2006 with the building last open to public in 2009, to celebrate the completion of a 25-metre mosaic addition to the building.[5][6]

Interior of the then-cathedral in 2002

See also[edit]


  1. ^ john bentley mays. "Suburbia with a twist". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2011-12-16. 
  2. ^ "New Bishop for the Eparchy of Toronto". Byzantine Catholic Church in America. 1998-11-11. Retrieved 2010-09-03. 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "The Catholic Register: Giant Slovak cathedral, blessed by pope, stripped of status in dispute". 10 May 2006. Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Catholic Cathedral of the Transfiguration, a photo from Ontario, Central". TrekEarth. Retrieved 2011-12-16. 
  6. ^ a b Fleischer, David (2010-08-27). "Cathedraltown in progress". Retrieved 2010-09-03. 

External links[edit]

Newspaper Reports[edit]

  • "Thousands attend as new cathedral's giant bells blessed." The Ottawa Citizen. Ottawa: Aug 16, 1986. pg. A.23
  • "Church at the centre; A European-style community will take shape around golden-domed Byzantine Slovak cathedral Built by magnate with grand vision" by Pat Brennan. Toronto Star. Toronto: Apr 17, 2004. pg. M.01
  • "Eparchy site in Markham Roman reticent about role in constructing cathedral" Kelley Teahen. The Globe and Mail. Toronto: Oct 26, 1985. pg. A.21
  • "Progress slow on Byzantine shrine Hundreds worship in unfinished cathedral" Caroline Byrne. Toronto Star. Toronto: Jul 3, 1989. pg. A.6
  • "1,600 mourn Roman at cathedral he built" Joseph Hall. Toronto Star. Toronto: Mar 27, 1988. pg. A.4

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