The Crystal Cathedral

A view of the Crystal Cathedral in Orange, California, in 2007, when the Rev. Robert Schuller broadcast his Hour of Power television show from its sanctuary. The glass cathedral building, designed by modernist architect Philip Johnson, was completed in 1980 at a cost of $18 million, with the 236-foot steel spire and its 52-bell carillon completed in 1990.

Ready for prime time

The interior of the Crystal Cathedral from the days when it Robert Schuller's pulpit. When the Diocese of Orange acquired the church, the main task was to transform it into a Catholic church.

Praying with the saints

One of the essential elements in converting the Protestant worship space into a Catholic church was to install an altar, and part of that altar is a reliquary. The tradition harks back to the early Church, when persecuted Christians gathered in catacombs, offering Mass on altars atop bones of martyrs. The bones, blood or clothing included in Christ Cathedral's altar are from American, Mexican, Vietnamese, and Korean saints.

Renewed sanctuary

Above the altar in the center of Christ Cathedral is a baldachin, from which is suspended the crucifix, the Crux Gemmata. Crafted in Omaha from blackened steel and transported to Orange County in four separate pieces, the cross weighs 1,000 pounds. Its design is typical of early medieval art, affixed with gems and the corpus of Christ.

Corpus Christi

The corpus is what makes a cross a crucifix. The Crux Gemmata is a cross typical of early medieval art, affixed with gems and a wooden body of Christ, which appears to be like ivory.

Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross were designed by Bolivian-born sculptor Pablo Eduardo, who is known for marrying his Spanish-American heritage with his art. Above the stations can be seen some of the 11,000 “quatrefoils” that serve as window shades. The quatrefoils are designed to deflect UV rays and heat and reduce outside light which is deemed a distraction from the altar with nearly 11,000 panes of glass. Each quatrefoil is composed of four triangles, permanently situated at varying angles. The triangular pieces hovering over each pane open at different angles.

Mother of America, and of the Diocese

Our Lady of Guadalupe, so dear to the Mexican immigrants who live in Orange County, is the patron saint of the Diocese of Orange. A 10' by 7' tile mosaic is located at the cathedral’s south interior wall. It is made of more than 55,000 tiles of gold and opaque glass. A portable 22-inch by 20-inch crown, made of gold leaf, was designed to adorn Our Lady’s head, giving the image added prominence.

Universal language

One of the things preserved from the old Crystal Cathedral is the Hazel Wright Organ, named after its donor, a faithful viewer of the Hour of Power. The pipework is from two main sources: the 115-rank Fratelli Ruffatti organ built in 1977 for the Garden Grove Community (now called the Arboretum) and the 100-rank Aeolian-Skinner organ purchased from the Philharmonic Hall in New York. When the two organs were combined, under the direction of famed organist Virgil Fox, many more ranks of Ruffatti pipes were added.

Christian icons

Seen here next to the Crux Gemmata is a tapestry of the Pantocrator, or Christ Seated in Glory as the Lord of Creation. It was designed by Brother Martin Erspamer, a monk of St. Meinrad Archabbey.

The bishop's doors

Two 20-foot-tall bronze doors designed by Bolivian-born sculptor Pablo Eduardo replace the Crystal Cathedral’s original glass doors.



A light in the darkness

The quatrefoils inside the cathedral's 11,000 panes of glass include exterior lights to enhance the building’s visibility at night, producing an effect described as a “box of stars.”

"Come to me, all who are burdened ..."

Christ said, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." Bread that has been consecrated as the Eucharistic Christ at the new cathedral named for Him is reserved in this tabernacle at the center of a "Blessed Sacrament Chapel." It is here where the faithful can come and spend time in silent prayer in His presence, and from here ministers can take the Eucharist to the sick and homebound.