When visitors and congregants think of the Christ Cathedral campus, visions naturally turn toward the iconic structures: Philip Johnson’s glass-encased cathedral, the bell tower and architecturally significant Richard Neutra and Richard Meier campus buildings.
But when the Diocese of Orange moved onto the campus of the former Crystal Cathedral, it also inherited an interesting array of statues commissioned by the late Robert Schuller and congregants of his church.
Ten statues, some symbolic and others that tell Bible stories, extend along a roughly North-South line between the Memorial Gardens near Chapman Avenue and the Arboretum.
“They add an artistic dimension to the campus and have been popular places for people to come and pray and to take photos,” said Father Christopher Smith, episcopal vicar to Christ Cathedral. “Statues provide a different medium to express religious sentiments and they have served that purpose for many years on the campus.”
“We believe the art sculptures on campus that were placed here by Rev. Schuller help inspire devotion to Christ,” said Deacon Michael Stock, episcopal director of operations and general counsel.
Currently seven of the statues remain on display for the public. Three were moved to a campus location and placed in protective wrapping to preserve them during renovations and construction on the grounds. They will be reintroduced when work is finished on a Crystal Cathedral Legacy Garden in memory of Schuller and his former church.
Kymmberly Binnquist, the senior property manager at Christ Cathedral, has fielded many questions about the fate of the statues and assures they are safe.
“We’ve had a lot of people asking about them,” she said. “Thousands of people would come through and take pictures with them. I can imagine the Legacy Garden will be very popular once it’s completed.”
According to Binnquist, the Legacy Garden is still three to five years away from completion, but has been designed and will be placed in a grassy area near the Cultural Center. In addition to the statues from storage, several others may be moved from around the campus into the space.
Although the statues are not approved Catholic works, they are important to the history and story of faith in the area, according to Fr. Chris.
“We have viewed them with gratitude as a part of the legacy that was entrusted to us and help to identify the campus as a sacred place,” he said.
Full story at OC Catholic.