It was like an abandoned work of art sitting in a field of dirt and rocks. It was so sad to see. No one was around to see me admire it. No one came out of their cookie-cutout homes. Row after row of urbanization and development. No children playing, no trees or birds in sight. Not a soul around. It was like everything stood still here. In a sense it did... still and forgotten.
This was the Cathedral of the Transfiguration in amongst a cascade of rows of street lamps. A vision of Stephen Boleslav Roman, who was a Slovak immigrant who conceived and funded the cathedral in hopes of serving 5,000 worshippers of Byzantine Roman Catholics across the GTA of the 35,000 across Canada.
He designed the building based on the structure of a church in the village he was raised in called, Vel'ky Ruskov, in Slovakia. With the help of a famous architect Dennis Buttress who lend a hand in the design of the famed Westminster Abbey, the cathedral was built. He imported French-made bells, the largest of which are over 16 tons and 3m in diameter. The mosaics contain over 5 million tiles. The tower rises over 63 metres high (20 storeys) and topped with a gold onion dome, which can be seen from quite a distance. Sometimes when the sun hits it, it will glitter like a star.
Here is where the story takes a turn: in 2006 John Pazak, who was head of Byzantine rite Slovak Catholics in Canada, had removed the blessed sacrament and the the altar stone from the cathedral. The bishop suspended permission for his priest to celebrate Mass in the former cathedral and even went as far as to ask the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto to disallow Roman rite to perform Mass here.
The bishop's decision was based on the being unable to arrive at a sustainable working relationship with the Slovak Catholic Church Foundation, which owns the property.
I have seen this towering 22karat-gold onion-domed cathedral for years while traveling north on Highway 404, but have never come this close to it. The other day by chance I saw the tower shining like a beacon in the twilight. While the tones of the sky looked ominous with blues and greys, and hues salmon and yellow peeking behind the already setting sun, it called to me. I had taken the time to get a closer look. I guess this is one way of expressing that all that glitters isn't gold.
Final Note: 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