Since last summer, when Christ Cathedral’s distinctive quatrefoils were installed to shade and buffer its 10,000 glass panes, significant progress is transforming the former Crystal Cathedral into a Catholic worship center.
Most recently the Hazel Wright Organ – the world’s fifth-largest organ and arguably its most famous – is being reinstalled so it ultimately can be voiced and tuned. In addition, the Crux Gemmata [giant crucifix] now hangs above the Italian marble altar on its stone predella, just in front of the matching Carrara marble Bishop’s Chair.
As work on the organ’s restoration continues, sacred art is being created by world-renowned artists, and original music commissioned for Christ Cathedral’s dedication events in July is being composed. The historic July 17 dedication also marks the first time the Catholic Church’s new Rite of Dedication will be used to dedicate a cathedral in an English-speaking country.
“If you were to enter the cathedral right now you would see workers installing and adjusting special spotlights and illumination over the altar, in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, and the baptistery,” explains Episcopal Vicar Father Christopher Smith, rector of Christ Cathedral Parish.
“The stonework is finished, the walls are pretty much finished, and workers are doing some fine-tuning of the finish work where the stone walls meet the stone floors,” Fr. Christopher continues. “The baptistery pool was recently installed and they’re putting the stone cladding on it, and the decorative metal walls and chapel (designed by cathedral architects Johnson Fain) are installed.”
As John Romeri, the Diocese of Orange director of Music Ministries, awaits original compositions for the dedication events, he notes that the cathedral’s choir area is ready to go as soon as furniture arrives. Balcony pews are installed; plans are to install pews on the main floor in March.
Progress largely depends on the final installation of the organ’s thousands of parts – including more than 16,000 pipes, some of which are up to 32 feet long – that are now laid out and organized on the cathedral floor.
Now that the building’s transformed infrastructure is in place, Fr. Christopher says, cathedral work crews are awaiting the arrival of sacred artworks, such as the 14 Stations of the Cross rendered in bronze by Bolivian-born artist Pablo Eduardo and the huge tapestry woven in Belgium depicting Jesus Christ King of the Universe, all of which will have their homes inside the cathedral.
Father Christopher expects to supervise installation of the sacred art and adjustment of lighting in the spring.
“It’s been fascinating to watch as the glass building has been transformed into a Catholic cathedral,” Father Christopher says. “It’s been quite a learning experience to watch and listen to all these experts at work. It’s given me a newfound respect for people in many trades.”
Full story at OC Catholic.