Chicago's Ukrainian history traces back to the arrival of immigrants from western and Carpathian Ukraine in the late 1890s. In 1905, Ukrainian communal life officially sprang into existence when fifty-one immigrants established St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Ruthenian Catholic parish.
St. Nicholas Cathedral is modeled after the mutli-domed eleventh century Cathedral of St. Sophia in Kyiv, Ukraine - one of the optimum examples of early Russo-Byzantine architecture.
The founders of St. Nicholas stipulated that in addition to religious goals, parishioners were pledged to elevate themselves through a school, a reading room, and political clubs. In loyalty to this mission, St. Nicholas council members established a Ukrainian heritage school. Today, some 150 students attend St. Nicholas Elementary School.
Heavenly panoramic icons greet visitors to the Cathedral. Rendered as mosaics or frescos, they depict events in the life of Christ, his Mother, and many saints set against a background of sky blue and gold.
A nine-tiered golden chandelier lit with 480 lights hangs from the highest dome in the center of the cathedral. The chandelier was made in Greece, with the 12 apostles of the New Testament encircling the exterior, and is acknowledged as the largest of its kind in the United States.
The stained glass windows were designed by Munich Studio of Chicago and are from the cathedral's original construction.