St. Vibiana's today
|The Cathedral of St. Vibiana is the seat of the Los Angeles
Archdiocese. It has been closed since May 1995 because of damage sustained during the 1994 Northridge
earthquake. Located at 114 E. 2nd Street, surrounded by abandoned buildings and bordering Skid Row, the rundown and
neglected cathedral's future is in doubt.
Plans for a cathedral for Los Angeles began as early as 1859. Using land donated to the Church by Amiel Cavalier, architect Ezra Kysor designed the building. The cathedral was dedicated in 1876; four years and $80,000 later St. Vibiana's was completed.
Pope Pius IX chose the Cathedral's name, selecting St. Vibiana, a 3rd century martyr whose remains had been buried in the Roman catacombs. Since cathedrals traditionally contain the relics of a saint, the remains of Vibiana are now in a gilt and plate glass sarcophagus located in a niche above the high altar.
The interior was remodeled about 1895, using onyx and marble. The exterior facade of the building was changed 1922-24 to give it its present look, said to be based on a Roman design.
During the 1940s a school was added, but this was closed during the mid 1960s because the parish could not afford it. The building is now used as a convent by the Disciples of the Divine Master, while the basement is used for Masses.
Plans for a new $50 million cathedral complex have polarized the Catholic community. Attempts to raze St. Vibiana's resulted in court injunctions delaying the demolition, but an architect has been hired to design a new cathedral, and the building has been removed from the city's landmarks list. The real question now seems to be whether a new cathedral will be built on the present site, incorporating the old with the new, or a completely new site (possibly in the San Fernando Valley) will be chosen for the Archdiocesan headquarters.