Los Angeles Almanac Logo
Home | All Almanac Topics | Religion

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

In 1996, the City of Los Angeles condemned St. Vibiana’s Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles (eventually renovated into a wedding, events and performing arts venue) due to the need for extensive earthquake damage repairs. The old cathedral had served the Catholic Los Angeles Archdiocese since 1876. Engineers estimated that it would have cost a minimum of $18 million to refit it.

Due to the inadequacy of the site and capacity of the old cathedral, the archdiocese decided to find a new site for a new cathedral. A 5.6-acre site bounded by Temple Street, Grand Avenue, Hill Street, and the Hollywood Freeway was selected and purchased from the County of Los Angeles for $10.85 million. Official Ground Blessing Ceremonies took place on September 21, 1997. Initial excavation began on October 14, 1998. It opened to a formal blessing and dedication on September 2, 2002. The new cathedral, measuring 58,000 square feet and costing $189.7 million, was designed by Spanish architect José Rafael Moneo. It accommodates close to 3,000 worshipers. The structure will be able to last for about five centuries.

The original cathedral was built on land donated to the Church by Amiel Cavalier at Main and Second Streets. It was dedicated in 1876 by Archbishop Joseph Sadoc Alemany of San Francisco. The cathedral was completed in 1880 at a cost of $80,000. Ezra Kysor was the architect. The exterior facade of the building was remodeled from 1922-1924 to its present look.

The original cathedral was named for the martyr saint Vibiana. Her remains were gifted to the Los Angeles Diocese in 1854 by Pope Pius IX. Bishop Thaddeus Amat received the remains with the understanding that a cathedral would be built in her honor and she be named principal patroness of the diocese. Her remains eventually were laid in the cathedral named for her upon its completion in 1876. There the saint's remains lay for 120 years until the old cathedral closed in 1996. They temporarily were laid at Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles until being moved to the new cathedral upon its completion.

The new cathedral is appropriately named to honor the Lady that gave Los Angeles its original name. The city was originally named Our Lady the Queen of the Angels. The new name, Cathedral of the Lady of the Angels, was actually confirmed by the Vatican and announced by Archbishop Cantwell in 1945 in anticipation then of building a new cathedral.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
555 W Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012-2707
Telephone: (213) 680-5200