St. Mary's Byzantine Catholic Church, New York City
This mural reminded me of the like mural of Toronto's Byzantine Slovak Cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God, photographed by me in 2009, and for good reason: the two churches both belong to the Eastern Rite of Roman Catholicism. The Tumblr Slavs of New York traces the origins of this church to the same emigrations of Ruthenes, an ethnic category that I described in 2005 as an abortive East Slavic nation now most often apparently a subdivision of the Ukrainians.
St. Mary’s location is no accident - it serves a sizable Slavic community in the East Village alongside the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox parishes of St. Nicholas (10th/Avenue A) and St. Mary’s (7th/Avenue A), the Ukrainian Catholic Church of St. George (7th/3rd), the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of All Saints (11th/3rd), the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Holy Virgin Protection (2nd/2nd) and the Polish Roman Catholic Church of St. Stanislaus (7th/1st).
St. Mary’s parish dates to 1912, the heyday of Carpatho-Rusyn immigration to the United States. The parish first used a former Welsh Presbyterian church building at 255 East 13th Street. The present building was designed in 1959, by the Rev. Cajetan J.B. Baumann, who was a Franciscan friar in addition to being an architect. He designed a range of religious buildings both in New York and elsewhere.
According to the New York Times, this was the first all-glass church in the country, with a design that “emulates temples of early Christianity in Greece.” The estimated cost in 1958 was nearly a million dollars.
David W. Dunlop’s From Abyssinia to Zion: A Guide to Manhattan’s Places of Worship describes St. Mary’s as “[t]he most startling of the four houses of worship around Stuyvesant Square” and “a Modernist jewel box,” noting the “tower of glistening metal strands that reach up flame-like, whipped and wrapped around the bell.” The tower is a 50-feet tall stainless steel Modernist impression of a bell tower, which contains the bell from the parish’s original 13th Street home.
The New York Architecture blog goes into detail about the theology of Eastern, or Byzantine, Catholicism.