Various Floor Plans of Eastern Rite Churches

Within the context of the theology of Eastern Rite architecture, one sees particular floor plans frequently employed in Ukrainian churches that demonstrate the tradition of the three sections of the church. The most commonly found floor plans in Ukrainian churches are the tripartite plan, the Greek-cross plan, and the cross-in-square plan. In Canada, there are also a large number of Ukrainian churches that have adopted the Latin-cross plan, which has a great tradition in Western Rite architecture. Nonetheless, Latin-cross plans also appear in some churches in Ukraine as well. There are other possible plans but they are not common in Ukrainian-Canadian churches.

Tripartite Plan

The tripartite plan is commonly found in Ukrainian churches in the, Lemko, Boyko, and Ternopil nave styles of church architecture. Generally, there are three distinct spaces following one after another making for an elongated structure. However, there are some churches where the structure looks like a basic rectangle and one may not be able to appreciate the three distinct spaces until one actually enters the church. Depending on the style of the church, the outside wall of the sanctuary may be semicircular or polygonal.

For an example of a church built with a tripartite plan, see the photograph of Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church located at Valley River Farms, Manitoba. This structure, which was built in 1925, mainly exhibits the characteristics of a Boyko style church.

Typical tripartite floor plan
Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church,
Valley River Farms, MB

While the Bukovynian style of church is essentially tripartite in nature, it may seem less evident. In many instances a Bukovynian style church may be apsidal at both ends and the entrance may be from the side of the church rather than from either end.

At MacNutt, Saskatchewan, there is a particularly beautiful old Bukovynian style church. Bukovynian immigrants that were primarily Romanian speaking founded the parish of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church (OCA) in 1903. However, in the early days the church would have also served Ukrainians in the area as well.

A Bukovynian style floor plan
Holy Trinity Orthodox Church (OCA), MacNutt, SK

The Greek-Cross Plan

The Greek-cross plan typically may be found in Hutsul, Kievan, and Cossack baroque style churches. Ternopil cruciform churches are also sometimes in a Greek-cross plan. Although, in Canada, churches built in the spirit of the Ternopil cruciform style more frequently seem to take the Latin-cross plan. In the example in the diagram shown, the sanctuary is apsidal shaped, but it might also be square. In the Greek-cross plan each arm of the cross is of equal size or is, at least, near to equal in size.

For an example of the Greek-cross plan, see the photograph of St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church (Kyziv-Tiaziv) located about 8 miles south of Rama, Saskatchewan. The parish constructed the church in 1928.

The Greek-cross plan
St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church, near Rama, SK

Latin-Cross Plan

The Latin-cross plan is found in a wide variety of churches in Canada built for both the Eastern and Western Rites. Like the Greek-cross plan, the sanctuary may be either apsidal or square. In some instances, even the transepts may end in an apsidal shape.

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church at Star-Peno, Alberta, is the oldest Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Alberta; although the church itself was built in 1927. The structure is most like the Ternopil cruciform style and it very distinctly follows the Latin-cross floor plan.

The Latin-cross plan
Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, Star-Peno, AB


The Cross-In-Square Plan

The cross-in-square plan is typically found in Kievan, and Cossack baroque style churches. The exterior of the church is a basic square but the interior spaces are distributed along the plan of an internal cross. In this plan there is a space on either side of the sanctuary that may be used for a vestry or sacristy.

Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is a good example of a church constructed in the cross-in-square plan. The structure was completed in 1962. While the design is fairly modern, it shows many elements of the Cossack Baroque style. This photograph shows the building from the south side.

The cross-in-square plan
Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, Winnipeg, MB