The Communists had turned the building into the headquarters of the Soviet Union's Interior Ministry. Then, in the 1980s, the altar was removed by the Soviet authorities, who installed a large organ and turned the cathedral into a concert hall.
St. Nicholas Cathedral is the second oldest Latin Rite church in Kiev, after St. Alexander's Co-Cathedral.
Built in neo-Gothic style between 1899 and 1909 by architect Vladyslav Horodetskiy and Emilio Sala, it is the city's second Roman Catholic cathedral. It is dedicated to St. Nicholas of Myra.
Consecrated in 1909, the church served as a place of prayer and worship for the Catholic faithful until 1938, when it was closed after being seized by the Soviet government.
The Ukrainian Bishops' Conference website reports that an agreement has been reached with the authorities to return St. Nicholas Cathedral to the Church, nearly a century later. On June 1, 2022, it will become Catholic again.
In the meantime, the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, within the scope of his competences, will facilitate the search for other rehearsal and concert halls for the National House of Organ and Music chamber music and the relocation of the National House of Organ and Chamber Music of Ukraine. The Church will have to ensure the restoration.
Thanks to the combined efforts of Catholics, justice is finally restored and the sanctuary returns to the hands of the Church. The bishops are calling for prayer and warn that “the months to come will be difficult and it is important that the restoration work be carried out on time, that the deadlines are not violated, that these promises be kept.”
Even after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the independence of Ukraine, the cathedral was not returned to the Catholic Church. It was taken over by the local municipality's culture department, which argued that the church could not be returned because the organ was too large to move and there would be no other place to put it.
Until today, Catholics had to rent their cathedral so that they could celebrate Mass and hold other religious services there, because of its status as a concert hall.