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 Home > Crypt Church

Byzantine - Ruthenian Chapel

The centerpiece of this chapel is a traditional mosaic of the Byzantine Virgin Orante. Mary is shown in a way that recalls her intervention in 626 A.D. at the church of Vlacherna in Constantinople. Citizens who had gathered there to pray for deliverance from the enemy were saved when Mary appeared and sheltered them with her mantle.

The iconostasis, or icon screen, separates the sanctuary from the nave. The screen features traditional Byzantine images of Christ the Teacher and Theotokos, Mary the "God Bearer." The sanctuary doors, through which only bishops and priests are allowed to pass, show icons of the four Evangelists. Deacons and assisting personnel enter the sanctuary through the "deacon's door" on the side which is adorned with icons of the deacons, Sts. Stephen and Lawrence.

The mosaic on the south wall records the spiritual and cultural background of Catholics in Eastern Europe. Against a backdrop of the Carpathian Mountains are Sts. Cyril and Methodius, apostles to the Slavs, and the image of the weeping Madonna, "Maria Pozc."

The north wall depicts the history of the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholics in the United States. Most notable is the Statue of Liberty. The gold-domed building represents the seminary of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh. Also on the north wall is an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The mosaics were designed by Christine Dochwat and executed by Crovatto Mosaics. The Oct. 6, 1974 dedication celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Ruthenian Exarchate in the United States.

Oppressed by sin and sadness,
we have recourse to the Mother of God.
Filled with sorrow for our sins,
we knell and cry from the depths of our hearts:
O our Queen, come to our aid.
Have compassion on us.

We are overwhelmed to the point of succumbing
under the weight of our sins.
Do not disillusion your servants,
for you are our only hope.

Mother of God,
even though we are unworthy to receive your aid,
we will never cease making your power known.
If you should not be here to intercede for us,
who would free us from such dangers?
Who could have preserved us unharmed until now?
Our Queen,
we will never go far from you,
for you always save your servants
from all their misfortunes.