The Crystal Cathedral was recognized throughout the world as an architectural masterpiece, and the art featured inside and outside the church made it a cultural center as well.
Christ Cathedral proudly carries on that tradition. The transformed Roman Catholic cathedral will feature specially commissioned sacred art, artisan-crafted furnishings, and sacred items handcrafted by world-renowned artists.
Perhaps the first thing to strike visitors as they approach Christ Cathedral will be the Festal Doors, also known as the Bishop’s Doors, at the entrance. The doors were created by Bolivian-born sculptor Pablo Eduardo, who works out of a studio in Gloucester, Mass., and is known for marrying his Spanish-American heritage with his training and intimate knowledge of his craft. Eduardo is also designing four Manifestations of the Divinity of Christ and 14 Stations of the Cross for Christ Cathedral.
“The artwork on the doors themselves begins with the creation of the world, and the creation of humanity in the persons of Adam and Eve,” explains Father Christopher Smith, rector and episcopal vicar of Christ Cathedral. “The story continues with their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, what we refer to in the Catholic Church as original sin.
“Then the doors are opened and when one walks into the narthex of the cathedral, the artwork centers on the Paschal Lamb seated on the Book of the Seven Seals according the vision in the Book of Revelation,” Fr. Smith continues. “As each seal is broken, the world moves closer to the fullness of redemption by Jesus Christ, who is symbolized as the Paschal Lamb.
“On either side of the Lamb are John the Baptist and Mary,” he notes. “Then there are depictions of recently canonized saints, flanked on either side by the Vietnamese, Korean and Mexican Martyrs.
“It is fitting that as Christ Cathedral, the art as one approaches and enters the cathedral depicts salvation history from the creation of the world reaching
its fulfillment in the Victory of Jesus Christ, the Lamb, surrounded by the Cloud of Witnesses, the saints in their heavenly glory.”
Eduardo is one of six internationally recognized artists creating artwork for Christ Cathedral. He describes his creative process as beginning with empty clay panels on a large wall, concluding with six months of metal work as the designs are cast in bronze.
“You can see finger marks [in the finished design], they [Bishop Vann and Fr. Smith] wanted to see the actual process of creation, the theme of the door here. While working on it I have the bishop in the back of my head, as I’ve spoken with him many times. I hope he likes, connects with, and understands it.
“I am just honored, really, really honored, to have the opportunity to do this work,” Eduardo says. “When I was a very, very, very young artist, I always loved this kind of sacred art. So, I would look at sacred art in churches and say wow, to do this for churches!
“I have done work in many churches before. To do this for Christ Cathedral – the architectural gem and center of Orange County – it is one of my biggest honors so far in my life.”
Bishop Kevin Vann, in his December 20, 2018 blog post, titled “Do Not Be Afraid. Open Wide the Doors for Christ,” noted that the Diocese is “proud to be a steward of Dr. Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral and his vision that it serves as a beacon of faith and a platform to preach the power of unconditional love, hope and ideas that through belief anything is possible.”
On July 17, 2019, Christ Cathedral will be dedicated. “The day marks the beginning of another chapter and journey of Faith for our local Church as it transforms into the centerpiece of Catholic life in Orange County,” Bishop Vann wrote. “The dedication will be one of the most significant milestones in the life of the Diocese since its establishment in 1976. The spiritual and temporal efforts, in progress since 2013, to make Christ Cathedral a primary focal point of the life, teaching and worship, are aimed at building a deeper unity of purpose and mission among Catholics within our local Church, and a renewed commitment to permeating the world with the love of Christ.
“As the liturgical heart and center of our Catholic faith,” Bishop Vann continued, “Christ Cathedral promises to be both inspiring and humbling in its profound celebration of God’s magnificence, thus becoming even more a spiritual home where the living God dwells and meets us.”
The Festal Doors will be part of the ritual at the beginning of the Mass of the Dedication of Christ Cathedral, Fr. Smith explains. “There is not a separate dedication for them.” Because so many dignitaries, including the bishops of the United States, all the priests and deacons of the Diocese of Orange, and representatives from each of the diocese’s 62 parishes and centers, and seating in the cathedral is limited, this means that the Dedication Mass will be a ticketed event.