Religion in Ukraine: history, traditions, beliefs

The main religion in Ukraine is Orthodox Christianity that is observed by approximately 75 per cent of people.  Catholicism is also one of the major religions in Ukraine (23 %). Besides, there are also such confessions as Protestantism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Adventism on the territory of Ukraine. Religion takes the special place in Ukrainians’ lives. Great majority of people believes in God and respects church traditions.

History of Christianity in Ukraine

Ukraine was the first East-Slavonic country on which territory Christianity was preached. According to the reliable information in the 1st century DC Apostle Andrew began to confess Christ’s teaching on the territory of Crimea. Later after the legalization of Christianity in Roman Empire in the 4th century, first eparchies were created in Chersonese and Bosporus.

East Slavic Orthodoxy originated in 988 DC when Vladimir the Great introduced Christianity to the Kievan Rus. That historical event led to the establishment of the First Kiev Archdiocese, which appeared before the separation of the churches on Orthodox and Catholic.

The adoption of the Union by Metropolitan of Kiev Isidore led to religious schism, thus in the 15th century in northern-eastern eparchies was established Orthodox Russian Church while the other part created Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

In 1620 Kievan metropolis was renewed due to Theophanous’ efforts. Sixty years later (in 1678) it was united with Orthodox Russian Church, which was the beginning of Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).

After the USSR collapse and proclaiming independent Ukrainian nation in 1992 a new religious structure, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchat, was created.

Churches in Ukraine

There are five major churches in Ukraine:

  • Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate);
  • Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kiev Patriarchate);
  • Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church;
  • Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church;
  • Roman Catholic Church.

Ukraine religion percentage




Statistics, Percentage of religious (%)  







Razumkov Centre



Sociology Service

Ukrainian Orthodox Church (MP)  




Metropolitan Onuphrius Church Slavonic 11358
Ukrainian Orthodox Church (KP)  




Patriarch Filaret Ukrainian 2781
Ukrainian Greek Catholic



no information



Sviatoslav Shevchuk Church Slavonic, Ukrainian 3993
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox  




Metropolitan Macarius Church Slavonic, Ukrainian 1185

Roman Catholic Church


no information



Metropolitan Mechyslav Ukrainian, Polish, Latin  

7 dioceses

Eastern Orthodoxy

Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate - Kiev-Pechrsk Lavra
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate — Kiev-Pechrsk Lavra

Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate has the biggest amount of religious buildings in Ukraine (11296). According to the Russian Orthodox Church Statute it is a church with self-government and wide autonomy.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate - St. Volodymyr Cathedral
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate — St. Volodymyr Cathedral

The second place by the area of influence takes Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate. Although it is considered to be unrecognized by Eastern Orthodox Churches, it is very popular among Ukrainians, especially in the western part of the country.

Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) was revived during the national liberation struggle in 1917-1921. Though nowadays this Church is considered to be autocephalous, it is, in fact, unrecognized by other Orthodox churches. Being in isolation, UAOC seeks the recognition of its status and aims to become the full member of the Universal Orthodoxy.

Catholicism in Ukraine

Catholic church in Ukraine - St. Olga and Yelisaveta Cathedral in Lviv
Catholic church in Ukraine — St. Olga and Yelisaveta Cathedral in Lviv

Catholicism in Ukraine takes the second place after Orthodoxy by the amount of believers. The greatest part of Ukrainian Catholics pertains to Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC). Although this Church practices Byzantine rites, as well as Orthodoxy, it is united with the Roman Catholic Church.

The Roman Catholic Church is popular only in western part of Ukraine and is attended mainly by Ukrainians who have Polish origin.

Judaism in Ukraine

Ukrainian synagogue Golden Rose Dnipro
Ukrainian synagogue Golden Rose Dnipro

Ukraine is inhabited by the fifth-largest Jewish community in the world. According to the statistics there are approximately 400 thousands of Jews in Ukraine, concentrated mostly in large cities such as Kyiv, Dnipro, Odesa and Kharkiv.

Since the beginning of the 90s of the 20th century Judaism was gradually revived in Ukraine. The synagogues, restored after anti-Semitic Soviet policy, became available for Ukrainian Jews for observing their religious traditions.

Nowadays there are a lot of Jewish communities, such as the Menorah Center (located in Dnipro), Ukrainian Jewish Committee (based in Kyiv), the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine (Kyiv) etc.

Islam in Ukraine

Muslim mosque in Odessa, Ukraine
Muslim mosque in Odessa, Ukraine

Islam takes the fourth position by the religion popularity in Ukraine and has 0.6-0.9 percent. The greatest part of all Ukraine Muslims comprises Crimean Tatars.

Muslim communities have three-leveled structure in Ukraine:

  • the Spiritual Board of Crimea’s Muslims (unifies approximately 70% of all registered Muslim communities);
  • the Spiritual Board of Ukraine’s Muslims (has its representatives in ten Ukrainian regions and takes the second place by the amount of communities);
  • the Spiritual Center of the Muslim Communities (unifies Muslim communities of the Tatar nationality in twelve regions and has national-religious character).

There were approximately one million Muslims on the territory of Ukraine, but after the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, the major part of them stayed on the territory that is not controlled by Ukraine.

Religious beliefs in Ukraine

The Bible

Ukrainian Bible
Ukrainian Bible

Ukrainian Orthodox beliefs are based on the Holy Book, the Bible. For Christians the Bible is a sacred Scripture that consists of Old and New Testaments. Old Testament contains the description of the history, predictions and is considered to be preliminary to New Testament.

New Testament includes moral teachings, keeping which is necessary for receiving the eternal life. Both these Books are recognized to have immutable truth and unchanged rules of faith and morality.

The Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity
The Holy Trinity

Ukrainian Orthodox Christians also believe in the Holy Trinity that consists of three heavenly persons:

  • The Father, who is immortal and eternal, not born and has no origin;
  • The Son, who is eternally born by the Father;
  • The Holy Spirit, who is also eternal and originates from the Father.

All three Hypostases of the Trinity exist in total union and create the world, bless and sanctify it. According to the Church doctrine, God, unified in three persons, is incorporeal, unseen spirit.

Jesus Christ’s Resurrection

All Orthodox Ukrainians believe in the Resurrection of Christ. Being the God’s Son, he was arrested and crucified by Pontius Pilate’s order. On the third day of his death Jesus Christ resurrected and ascended to Heaven.

According to the old Orthodox tradition every year all Orthodox Christians, including Ukrainians, celebrate the Day of Christ’s Resurrection, which is called Easter (“Paskha”). This holiday is usually celebrated on Sunday, and the week before Easter is called the Holy week.

Liked it? Share it!
  • 14