Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, the Cathedral of our Lady of Angels is a quiet, art-filled oasis in the middle of a bustling city. When I first saw this immense building, I didn’t realize it was a church. From the outside, it’s a modern structure, with a dramatic design.
The Church’s Beginning
In 1996 the Spanish architect, the world renowned, Pritzker Architecture Prize winning Professor José Rafael Moneo, was commissioned to design the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. He was not deterred by the 5.6 acre site that overlooked the Hollywood Freeway. Just as many European Cathedrals are built near rivers, Professor Moneo considered the freeway as Los Angeles’ river of transportation, the connection of people to each other. Two central theological truths guided Moneo’s design. The first is that the Light of God is revealed in salvation history, especially in and through Jesus Christ.
The second truth is the sense of journey that people make, alone and together, on the pilgrimage towards redemption in our lives and, ultimately, the fullness of the Kingdom of God in Heaven.
Inspired by these themes of Light and Journey, the architect chose natural light to flood the Cathedral through windows filtered through Spanish alabaster. Capturing the sense of spiritual journey, the entrance to the Cathedral opens to a slightly inclined ambulatory which circles the entire interior of the Cathedral and leads to the light of the nave. Source: Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels
The church takes on the feel of an open- air art mecca–full of pathways, etched windows, fountains, and statues. As I approached the front entrance, every fifteen minutes I was greeted by the chiming of the Carillon Bells.
With the music of the bells still ringing in the background, I crossed the threshold into the church courtyard.
The Gateway Pool and Waterfall is truly magnificent. The Cathedral of our Lady of Angels features art both large and small. If you look closely at the photo above you’ll see the celestial mapping on the sidewalk entrance. And as I climbed the stairs leading to the main courtyard, the grandeur of Robert Graham’s “Lady of the Angels” sculpture is soulful and stirring; and is a sight to behold.
The golden center of the tympanun above Mary’s head is an evocation of heaven.
The circular hole in the tympanum represents God who clothes the figure in light.
The figure of Mary is represented as that of a lowly woman raised to the highest, a woman self possessed, the valiant woman of the Book of Proverbs. Source: Public Art in LA
Also designed by Robert Graham, the bronze and inlaid doors gracing the church’s entrance create a gateway to quiet worship and meditation.
The Jerusalem Fountain in the courtyard beacons you with her mystery, textures, colors, and water.
Located behind the Fountain are the rows of stunning etched windows along the Church’s modern vertical hall.
Lalo Garcia, born in Mexico, is an esteemed local artist who created the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
A unique place where a small family member can play in the sun, there’s a please play on the sculpture garden, complete with a camel, monkey, beehive, and donkey, just to name a few animals; you can sit and relax while the kids have fun climbing and exploring. It’s a win/win situation.
Travelin’ Local’s mission is to find the places that you want to go to but may have not known about–in Los Angeles, the Cathedral of our Lady of Angels is well worth the time to appreciate and visit.