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St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral

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1956, Lefebvre and Wiggins; Camburas and Theodore. 3201 S. 51st St.
  • (Photograph by Paul J. Jakubovich, courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society)
  • (Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral is one of Milwaukee’s newer churches, but it represents a thousand-year-old architectural tradition. The stone building is a modern rendition of Byzantine church forms. Domes are the architectural focal point of Byzantine churches, and St. Sava’s Greek cross plan has five copper-clad domes on tall windowed drums. Other Byzantine features include the tall, thin-arched, or curving exterior elements that repeat in the narrow windows and the entrance portico. Since Eastern Orthodox tradition eschews three-dimensional carved statues, the exterior is rather plain. Inside are stunning mosaics designed and installed beginning in 1965 by Chicago glass mosaic artist Sirio Tonelli, who worked thirty years on the mosaics. The images follow the usual Byzantine hierarchy showing Jesus in the main dome and Mary in the semidome on the apse, biblical figures below and saints closest to the pews. An iconostasis separates the clergy from the laity, continuing the use of screens employed for several centuries in Western churches.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


What's Nearby


Marsha Weisiger et al., "St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral", [Milwaukee, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 108-108.

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