Innovative or an Eyesore? L.A.’s Controversial Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

Richly Chheuy / Flickr

Fr. Robert Barron of Word on Fire is now Aux. Bishop-Elect of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. It’s the largest diocese in the United States in terms of members (5 million), and it dates back to 1840.

It also has one of the most controversial cathedrals in the U.S. due to its modernist design and high cost.

[See also: QUIZ: Modernist Church or Communist Building?]

[See also: 21 Mesmerizing Photos of the World’s Most Beautiful Churches]

The previous cathedral for the archdiocese was the Cathedral of St. Vibiana, which opened in 1876. It served the archdiocese for over a hundred years until it was severely damaged in an earthquake in 1994. Rather than try to repair it, the archdiocese sold the church to the city and constructed a new cathedral in a new location. Called the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, it opened in 2002 and cost $250 million.

In addition to its unique design, the cathedral is also noteworthy for having an original relic from St. Juan Diego’s tilma, as well as being the resting place of famed actor Gregory Peck. You can see both of these things and more in the collection of pictures below, but first, let’s start with the cathedral’s design.

For comparison, here’s how the old Cathedral of St. Vibiana looked from the street:

Public Domain / Wikipedia
Public Domain / Wikipedia

And here’s how the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels looks from the street:

John O'Neill / Wikipedia
John O’Neill / Wikipedia

The main face of the new cathedral is viewable from an interior courtyard:

Kelvin Kay / Wikipedia
Kelvin Kay / Wikipedia

So you can see that there’s quite a stark difference in styles.

The difference in styles is also immediately evident when you step inside.

Here’s how the old cathedral looked on the inside:

Ebbie Chairless / Pinterest
Ebbie Chairless / Pinterest
via cathedralsofcalifornia.com
via cathedralsofcalifornia.com

And here’s how the new cathedral looks inside:

David Leigh Ellis / Wikipedia
David Leigh Ellis / Wikipedia

Whether you like the new design or not, it’s one of the most important churches in the U.S., and probably will remain so for many years to come.

Here’s a tour of the rest of the new cathedral. You can click on any image to enlarge it.

Enjoy!

The bell tower

Christopher John SSF / Flickr
Christopher John SSF / Flickr

The main entrance

Christopher John SSF / Flickr
Christopher John SSF / Flickr

A close-up of Mary above the door

Christopher John SSF / Flickr
Christopher John SSF / Flickr

A close-up of one of the engravings on the sides of the doors

Christopher John SSF / Flickr
Christopher John SSF / Flickr

A few statues from the courtyard

Richly Chheuy / Flickr
Richly Chheuy / Flickr
Richly Chheuy / Flickr
Richly Chheuy / Flickr
Christopher John SSF / Flickr
Christopher John SSF / Flickr
Christopher John SSF / Flickr
Christopher John SSF / Flickr

Some outdoor wall art

Richly Chheuy / Flickr
Richly Chheuy / Flickr

An outdoor Our Lady of Guadalupe chapel

Richly Chheuy / Flickr
Richly Chheuy / Flickr

Tapestries on the walls in the sanctuary

Christopher John SSF / Flickr
Christopher John SSF / Flickr

Some more interior wall art

Christopher John SSF / Flickr
Christopher John SSF / Flickr

The altar area

Christopher John SSF / Flickr
Christopher John SSF / Flickr

Another view of the nave

Christopher John SSF / Flickr
Christopher John SSF / Flickr

A piece of the original tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe (in the case hanging from the chain):

Andreas Praefcke / Wikipedia
Andreas Praefcke / Wikipedia

In addition to bishops, a handful of laypeople are buried there, including actor Gregory Peck:

LeeZ / Wikipedia
LeeZ / Wikipedia

Blessed Sacrament chapel

Zeetz Jones / Flickr
Zeetz Jones / Flickr

So what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!

[See also: 21 Absolutely Breathtaking Church Ceilings from Around the World]

[See also: Wow! Medieval Cathedrals Used to Be Full of Brilliant Colors]