Priest wonders who would want to vandalize a Louis Sullivan-designed cathedral, a place devoted to peace and love

The 120-year-old cathedral in Ukrainian Village was vandalized Jan. 26.

SHARE Priest wonders who would want to vandalize a Louis Sullivan-designed cathedral, a place devoted to peace and love
The Rev. Alexander Koranda is dean of Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Ukrainian Village. The church was vandalized Jan. 26.

The Rev. Alexander Koranda is dean of Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Ukrainian Village. The church was vandalized Jan. 26.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Light from the just-risen sun streamed in through the stained glass into the church, illuminating the golden halos of the fourth century bishops, various saints and the Christ figure decorating the walls.

A faint odor of incense lingered.

In the center, stood the Rev. Alexander Koranda, wearing a black cassock and a matching pointed skufia covering his head. A heavy silver cross hung from his neck.

“It is an incredible time because you are really greeting the day. The sun is coming up. It’s piercing through the windows, which is fantastic,” said Koranda, 33, a married father of three small children.

But there was no sunlight at all in the bell tower of Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, a 120-year-old jewel of a building in Ukrainian Village designed by Louis Sullivan — one of only two houses of worship the architect designed. Plywood covered the bell tower’s stained-glass windows. On Jan. 26, vandals hurled rocks and broke the glass. Koranda arrived that morning to find shattered glass, twisted lead and crumbled plaster lying in the bell tower.

One of three stained glass windows damaged at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral on Jan. 26.

One of three stained-glass windows damaged at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral on Jan. 26.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The cathedral — for which Sullivan, writing in 1900, quoted a $16,000 price tag to build — has recently undergone a series of costly renovations, including work on all of the windows. Koranda said it will likely cost about $5,000 to repair the three windows.

“More frustrating than the amount of time and money we spent on it, is that we do a lot of things here for the community. ... We have a lot of people who love this place,” Koranda said. “It’s disheartening because whoever did that maybe doesn’t realize how much love there is here for people in the community.”

Koranda said the cathedral has no surveillance video, and he’s not hopeful anyone will be arrested for the crime.

He doesn’t know who would want to target the cathedral. The original parishioners were immigrants from Slavic countries. A plaque on the front of the church refers to its founding in 1892 as “St. Vladimir’s Russian Orthodox Church.” Sullivan’s design reflects that heritage, with its gleaming onion domes and octagonal steeple. But the design also blends Byzantine and Celtic-like details.

The Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood is seen in this photo, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.

The Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood is seen in this photo, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Priest Alexander Koranda, the cathedral dean at the Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood, stands inside the cathedral, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. The cathedral’s windows were vandalized last week.

Priest Alexander Koranda, the cathedral dean at the Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood, stands inside the cathedral, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. The cathedral’s windows were vandalized last week.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

At the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, passersby would sometimes yell at Koranda as he was locking up the church for the day, he said. Some came inside the church — sometimes yelling in English, sometimes in Ukrainian.

Some would mention their hatred for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Others would ask why Koranda hadn’t spoken publicly about the church’s opposition to the war.

“Our position is always for peace. So we don’t support war by any means. We have no political agenda here at all,” he said.

The neighborhood has seen lots of ups and downs through the years, he said.

“There has been a carjacking and a couple of muggings just on this street alone,” he said.

Koranda spoke of the 12-step programs the church offers, a weekly hot meal offered to homeless people, prayers his congregation says for people all across the globe and the giant, unlocked chest filled with clothes that sits on the sidewalk outside the church.

On a recent Friday, an elderly woman stood in the snow and pawed through the chest. She was searching for clothing for friends, she said, as well as for herself. At one point, she reached in and pulled out a blue-and-white woolen scarf. She smiled as she whirled the scarf around her neck.

Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral at 1121 N. Leavitt St.

Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral at 1121 N. Leavitt St.

Sun-Times/Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The Latest
Andrea Kersten, directora de COPA, expresó su “gran preocupación” por el comportamiento de los oficiales en una carta enviada la semana pasada al superintendente de la Policía de Chicago, Larry Snelling.
Humberto Hernández llevaba a casa a Dontius Wilson, de 23 años, cuando recibieron disparos en el bloque 600 al oeste de la 69th St. Hernández se dio a la fuga. Wilson resultó herido y murió en el hospital.
En la última semana se detectaron tres casos, después que la ciudad registrara más de 50 en menos de un mes.
“Beyond Bars” includes extensive interviews with Boudin’s parents, once members of the Weather Underground radical group. It also covers his path to becoming San Francisco district attorney, and his recall in 2022.
The Croatian Cultural Center is celebrating its 50th anniversary with murals that Glenview artist Ivan (John) Mikan created last year.