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Journey to a New Cathedral

Andrew Santos

Sunday, February 24, 2013

If ever there was a Catholic Cathedral you wanted to visit, the city of Los Angeles, in the state of California, has exactly what you're looking for.
Standing in the midst of downtown Los Angeles, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels serves the entire Archdiocese that has close to five million Catholics. As the heart of all 287 parish Churches and communities, the Cathedral is the place where Archbishop José Gomez celebrates major liturgies of the year with clergy, religious and laity.
When looking back, plans for a Cathedral in Los Angeles began as early as 1859. Eventually, the Cathedral on Main and Second Streets was built and dedicated to St. Vibiana in 1976 by Archbishop Joseph Sadoc Alemany of San Francisco. It was completed four years and $80,000 later. The interior was remodeled in the year 1895, using onyx and marble. The exterior facade of the building was changed from 1922-1924 to give it its present look, in fact, said to be based on a Roman design.
When the city of Los Angeles condemned the old St. Vibiana's Cathedral in 1996, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was left without a Cathedral Church. With a population of approximately four million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles needed a Cathedral Church that could accommodate nearly 3,000 people for special Liturgies and services. It is in the tradition and practice of the Catholic Church to locate the Cathedral Church in the heart of the downtown - the civic centre of the city.
The plans, announced in January of 1995, were to remain at the historic site of St. Vibiana's Cathedral. The old Cathedral, ravaged by earthquakes over the years, and closed since May, 1995 because of damage sustained during the 1994 Northridge earthquake, was to be torn down, and a new Cathedral Church was to be built on that general site.
However, historical preservationists intervened and demanded that the old Cathedral be saved and incorporated into the new one. Such a proposal was impossible to consider because the old Cathedral lacked a foundation, reinforced walls and essential seismic safeguards. Legal challenges ensued, including court injunctions delaying the demolition.
The Archdiocese's engineers and contractors estimated that it would cost a minimum of $18-$20 million to save the old structure. No one, including the preservationists, would donate the money needed to save the old Cathedral building.
Finally, on July 22, 1996, it was announced that a new site would be sought for the new Cathedral.
If you do get the chance to visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, you will be blown away by its incredible simplicity and beauty. Among some of the many unique features you will find are the Great Bronze Doors, tapestries, baptismal font and mausoleum - located below the Cathedral.
S+L's Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB and Sebastian Gomes had the chance to be up close and person with this beautiful Church last August during their stay in Los Angeles.
All in all, this spectacular Cathedral serves as a "model Church for all Parish Churches" in the style and content of its liturgical celebrations. In design, art and furnishings, the Cathedral is rich in cultural diversity in a city in which Sunday Mass is celebrated in 42 different languages. How incredibly rich is the diversity! In the many years, the Cathedral has welcomed crowds of pilgrims and visitors - both Catholic and non-denominational.
If you do find yourself out on the west coast, as Salt + Light has, be sure to visit! Guaranteed that you won't be disappointed.

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