Saint John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church Pittsburgh, PA

Contact Details

Address

Saint John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church

1720 Jane Street

Pittsburgh, PA. 15203 Get Directions
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History

The history of St. John the Baptist parish began in 1891, when the present-day St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church, located at South Seventh and East Carson Streets, was organized. At that time – having the same religious identity – Rusyns and Ukrainians from the Transcarpathian area of Eastern Europe formed one parish. However as membership grew, and outgrew the worship space, the Ruthenian (Rusyn) immigrants organized a separate parish in 1900 under the name “Second St. John the Baptist Greek Catholic Church,” the present parish.

The parish initially met in a residence near South Tenth and Sarah Streets. In 1901 the membership purchased St. Casimir’s Lithuanian Catholic Church at 613 East Carson Street and used this church until 1958.

In 1923 the parish purchased a twenty acre farm in the Castle Shannon area of Allegheny County as a cemetery. The cemetery has since been used by other Byzantine parishes in the county and has seen much development. The state used a portion of the property to expand Connor Road, and the county transit authority used another portion to build its major nearby terminal. In 1975, the parish built a chapel at the cemetery. Perhaps the best known person interred in the cemetery is the Rusyn-American artist Andy Warhol.

In 1958 St. John the Baptist parish relocated its church from 613 East Carson Street to 1720 Jane Street, the site of the former “Rooster” Church, so-named because of the ornament on its steeple. The first Divine Liturgy in the new church was celebrated on Christmas Eve 1958.

The present church was constructed in a modern motif with classic Byzantine lines. The icon screen is the original from the old church. It was reduced to scale and completely redone to help blend the sanctuary and the nave into an integral whole. The central crystal candle chandelier also was transferred from the old church and is the only candle-lit chandelier known to still be in use in a Byzantine church in the Metropolia.

A special feature of the church is the Church Unity ceiling mural. Inspired by the Second Vatican Council’s emphasis on church unity, the mural weaves the major historical events of the Church into a twentieth century memorial. The mural measures thirty-six by fifty feet.

St. John the Baptist Church was the home parish of Bishop Emil Mihalik, Eparch of Parma. The present parish complex at 1720 Jane Street is well-located at the center of the dramatically reinvigorated South Side section of Pittsburgh.