First up today, have a look at this scene from the movie ‘A Christmas Holiday‘ from 1944.
It shows various parts of a Solemn High Mass (the first incensation of the altar and Introit, the ‘Domine non sum dignus’). The scene was filmed in the former Cathedral of St Vibiana (a 3rd century Roman martyr).
Completed in 1876, this Cathedral Church remained the Cathedral of Los Angeles for well over 100 years. The interior was remodelled with onyx and marble before 1900, and in the 1920s the exterior was also remodelled.
At some point (perhaps the 1980s, I haven’t been able to find out) the archdiocese began to look for a bigger complex for its Cathedral and administrative area. Not long after that, in 1994, St Vibiana’s was significantly damaged in an earthquake.
In 1996, deciding that the church was too expensive to preserve, and without permits, the archdiocese began to demolish the church. ‘Preservationists’ immediately secured a temporary restraining order and the battle began to save the old cathedral.
Eventually the archdiocese agreed to a grant of land from the City of Los Angeles in return for St Vibiana’s. This gifted land went into the new archdiocesan ‘Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels’, opened in 2005.
So (after all that preliminary back story), the church is now simply called Vibiana and serves as an ‘event space’.
How do we feel about this? I am unsure. In one sense, the iconoclasts haven’t destroyed a beautiful Catholic edifice (you know the type – clerics posing in front of bulldozers), but on the other hand, a beautiful Catholic edifice is turned over to secular purposes. Which is worse, or are both results equally bad?
Here are some links to give you a visual idea of things:
Vibiana – Los Angeles ‘event space’ website – this has many interesting pictures
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels – looks to me like the Sandcrawler from the first Star Wars movie
I mean come on – what should be done with former Catholic churches? These are buildings in which the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has been offered after all!