Christ Cathedral

A symbol of the unity of believers and their Church, the cathedral has been central to Catholic worship for thousands of years. A cathedral is the diocese’s “mother church” and the core of liturgical life. The carefully planned transformation of the historic Crystal Cathedral was a crucial step toward establishing the rechristened Christ Cathedral and its lovingly tended campus into a true center for Catholic worship in the Western United States and beyond.

In the late 1970s, legendary American architect Philip Johnson and his partner John Burgee presented their designs for an “all-glass church” to Rev. Robert Schuller. Upon seeing the plans, Rev. Schuller exclaimed, “Wow, it looks like a crystal cathedral!” Construction of the building was a massive undertaking, taking more than two years to complete. Standing 120 feet tall (12 stories), 141 feet long and 207 feet wide, the 78,397-square-foot edifice is constructed entirely of glass and steel. With 10,660 panes of mirrored glass and seating for 3,000, the cathedral structure is known worldwide for its inspiring beauty and breathtaking scale.

Johnson Fain and Rios Clementi Hale Studios, respectively, developed plans for redesigning the cathedral interior and re-sculpting the campus. Converting an all-glass church into a space that is intrinsically Catholic and facilitates contemplative and solemn prayer was a monumental task, requiring inspired action that combined thoughtful accommodation for sacred ministry while simultaneously honoring the property’s legacy.

During its two-year restoration, which began in the summer of 2017, the cathedral was cleaned and restored, inside and out. Interior upgrades were made to the main floor and mezzanines, improving access, sightlines, finishes and environmental comfort. The interior has been redesigned to accommodate Masses, celebrations, sacraments, services and non-liturgical events. Acoustics and lighting were extensively upgraded. As for the cathedral’s distinct façade, it remains essentially unchanged. The historic and internationally renowned Hazel Wright Organ was shipped to Italy, where it was meticulously restored. The Hazel Wright Organ is back inside the cathedral now, and the restored organ was blessed in a special ceremony on June 10, 2022.

“The cathedral will be an international center of faith and evangelization, a vessel for the love of God, a beacon of faith, a home for neighbor and traveler, and a sanctuary for the human spirit.”

Bishop Kevin Vann
Diocese of Orange