St.Vibian's Cathedral

Northwest corner of Main and 2nd streets

Over 111 years old, this cathedral has a seating capacity of 1,200. Designed in 1876 by Ezra F. Kysor, it was modeled after a Baroque church in Barcelona. The facade's classical pilasters and volutes are crowned with a tower and cupola. Inside are relics of an early Christian martyr whose name is given to the Cathedral, St. Vibiana. The remains are preserved in a marble sarcophagus. In early 1996 the good Cardinal, who presides over the largest Catholic Diocese in the United States, proposed that it be torn down and replaced by a new Cathedral building. Preservation- and historic-minded L.A. folk protested loudly in response.

After a heated controversy among the Cardinal, the Los Angeles Conservancy, and City Hall, the decision was made to build the new cathedral at the corner of Temple and Grand, near the Music Center. The new cathedral, to be called the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, overlooks the Hollywood Freeway (101).

On Septmber 21st 1997, the ground at the new Cathedral was blessed, after a procession to the site from St. Vibiana's. The ceremony at the new Cathedral site included comments by His Eminence Cardinal Roger Mahony, Architect Jose Rafal Moneo and numerous local politicians.

St. Vibiana's is now in private hands, and has been renovated as a entertainment and meeting venue. The rectory is being converted into a restaurant and housing.

St. Vibiana's

This view of St.Vibiana's shows a mysterious shortwave antenna atop the Cardinal's residence. Is he communicating with the Vatican? Is it part of a secret CIA or FBI bugging system? No, it turns out that the Cardinal is an amateur radio operator. Before moving from this residence, he would communicate with other "hams" in various corners of the globe using this antenna. By the way, his call sign is W6QYI.


PHOTOS: C. Roseman, J. Mapes