Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Irkutsk, Siberia, 1999-2000

After the revolution in 1917, the communist regime mercilessly destroyed religion in Siberia, which, as home to hundreds of Soviet concentration camps, became a place of suffering and death on a massive scale. Only in 1991, with the creation of two Apostolic Administrations did the Church return officially to the region, known as Asiatic Russia. In 1999, Asiatic Russia was divided into Western and Eastern Siberia, the latter having its bishop, Jerzy Mazur, S. V. D., who resides in Irkutsk, once known as "the Paris of the East."
Irkutsk's old Catholic church, Our Lady of the Assumption (completed in 1884) was in such an unsuitable condition for worship by the late 1990s that the Church decided to build an altogether new cathedral and curia building. Construction began on 10 June 1999. On 8 September 2000, birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jan Pietre Cardinal Shotte, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, officiated at the consecration of the finished cathedral.

These dramatic photographs depict the cathedral and curia at various stages of construction, including pictures of celebrations on Christmas Day 1999 (the commencement of the Jubilee Year 2000) in the roofless church.