Trading Beauty for Ugliness

This is the lovely Cathedral of Saint Vibiana, former cathedral of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.


Saint Vibiana served as the cathedral of Los Angeles for over 100 years. It was damaged during the 1994 Northridge earthquake and the Archdiocese sought to demolish it. Even though Cardinal Mahoney saw no value in preserving Saint Viviana, the people of Los Angeles fought to preserve the cathedral due to its beauty and historical significance. They secured a deal for the City of Los Angeles to purchase the cathedral from the Archdiocese.

The Archdiocese use the money to build this cement monstrosity instead.

b and w cathedral-of-our-lady-of-the-angels-in-los-angeles-jamie-pham

Jamie Pham, Fine Art America

The former cathedral now serves as the event venue, Vibiana.


Calloway Gable Studios

More on the history of Saint Vibiana

Latin Solemn High Mass at Saint Vibiana from the 1944 movie, Christmas Holiday.

A final picture of Saint Vibiana’s altar.

vibiana altar

Why did they remove the altar?

People say that much liturgical nonsense perpetrated since Vatican II is not the direct result of the Council. However, the Council “primed” Catholics to expect change on a consistent basis and opened the floodgates to the unprecedented, unabated changes that continue to the present. The text, Environment and Art in Catholic Worship (EACW), written by the USCCB Bishop’s Committee on the Liturgy, provided justification for the desecration of many of our churches and chapels.

Saint Patrick’s Seminary attributes EACW as the authoritative text to justify banishing their chapel’s beautiful, white, Italian marble altar and replacing it with a “liturgical tower”  and table. I quote from their website:

“The Chapel Renovation Committee was then formed with the charge of bringing out the best qualities of the beautiful oak chapel, while adapting the space to contemporary worship and the goals of Vatican II.

After many months of design consideration, the Committee recommended to Archbishop Quinn that the existing marble altar be removed and replaced with a eucharistic tower on a three-riser platform…

Designs for furnishings were prepared to reflect the chapel architecture and the requirements of Art and Environment in Catholic Worship.”

Note that the Saint Patrick’s Seminary attributes EACW as being authoritative by using the word “requirement” in the preceding paragraph.

Here is how the USCCB defines EACW:

“Environment and Art in Catholic Worship” does not have the force of law in and of itself. It is not particular law for the dioceses of the United States of America, but a commentary on that law by the Committee for the Liturgy. However, it does quote several documents of the Apostolic See and in that sense it has the force of the documents it quotes in the areas where those documents legislate.”

USCCB on Environment and Art in Catholic Worship

So it’s a bit convoluted. However, the Archbishop and President/Rector of Saint Patrick’s Seminary understood EACW as making “requirements” about liturgical “furnishings” when they made their regretful decision to relegate the altar to the seminary basement and the angels that attended the altar to an outside courtyard.

You can read the story here 

Skip down to the section “Renovation: 1989-1993” for salient details and a picture of the beautiful altar and angels before the “renovation”.

Critique of Environment and Art in Catholic Worship from architect, Duncan Stroik