The Sanctuary (Holy of Holies)

 

Icon painting of Christ enthronedThe focal point of the Cathedral sanctuary is Jesus Christ – the King of Glory, Ruler of the Universe, and Divine Teacher. Prof. Bucmaniuk has painted Him seated majestically on a throne. The Lord’s eyes, and the expression of His face, suggest that he is looking into your soul and calling you to Himself: “Everything has been entrusted to Me by My Father . . . Come to Me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon your shoulders and learn from Me . . .” (Mt 1:27-29).

In His left hand Christ holds a book with the Alpha and Omega inscription, signifying that He is the beginning and end of all. His right hand is raised in blessing, with the fingers positioned in the Byzantine way. The throne is supported by four six-winged seraphim (cf. Isaiah 6:1-2). On each side of Jesus is an angel in motion, bowing in veneration; one is holding a cross, the other a scepter.

View of the Tabernacle and inner santum

 

On the lower apse, below Christ, is the Lamb, in front of a cross, standing on a rock from which seven streams flow. The Lamb is Christ, Who sacrificed Himself on the cross for the salvation of the human race. The Lamb also symbolized the Resurrection. The rock is the Church, founded by Christ; the streams signify the Seven Holy Mysteries. On either side of the Lamb are the Apostles – six on each side.

On the upper portion of the apse is the symbol of the Holy Spirit, the dove, sending out rays of light. On the arc, which encloses the apse are symbolic angels, and the inscription in Old Slavonic, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:3). The semi-arcs of the apse are decorated with grapes and wheat symbols of the Holy Eucharist.

In the centre of the ceiling above the altar is a painting of St. Josaphat – the patron saint of the Cathedral. He is standing with arms outstretched and is clothed in a Basilian habit and bishop’s mantle. On either side, on the lower ceiling, are St. Josaphat’s symbols. On the left there is a cross with a hatchet and palm leaf, a rose and a palm tree; on the right there is a cross with a hatchet and a palm leaf, a sunflower and a lily. The cross, hatchet and palm are symbols of martyrdom. The rose, which was part of St. Josaphat’s crest, symbolizes the Mother of God to whom he was deeply devoted. The sunflower symbolizes the humanity and obedience of the monk, whose attention should be fixed on Christ from sunrise to sunset, as the sunflower is fixed on the sun.

At the front end of the sanctuary in the lower portion of the wall on the left side on the background of a maple leaf (Canada’s emblem) is a pillar of fire surrounded by a wreath of periwinkle – the Basilian emblem – a reminder that the parish was founded and served, and the church built, by Basilians of the Canadian Provinces. On the opposite side are a bishop’s cross and crosier, and mitre, and a Roman hat circled with a laurel wreath.

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