Sunday, November 13, 2005

Backward, Turn Backward, O Time in thy Flight




The Times yesterday morning reminded us of the days when we in this Archdiocese had a cathedral that resembled a cathedral rather than one of Albert Speer's more demented fantasies. "A Church's Resurrection" is the article's headline. If only.

The church in question is the old cathedral of St Vibiana and, rather than being resurrected, it has been . . . what is the correct word? Secularized? It is, in short, no longer a church but a "cultural center".

Read the article here and ponder how it was much too expensive to retrofit the old cathedral for $8 million but not too expensive to shell out $65 million for the new monstrosity. (Or was it more than $65m? The memory isn't what it was.)

The new building (a.k.a. the Taj Mahony, the Rog Mahal, St Roger's juxta Freeway, and others too numerous to mention) can be seen at its own website here.

St Vibiana's has largely vanished down the memory hole so far as the Archdiocese is concerned. There are some elements of the old cathedral in the crypt of the new. Some stained glass windows and the relics of the virgin martyr herself. But nothing on line that I could find. There is a website (maintained by U.S.C.) with some few pictures here.

Bad tempered whinging aside, I am rather grateful to the L.A. preservationists that St Vibiana's is still standing, even if only as a "cultural center". If the old liturgy could rise from its Bugninian grave, perhaps there is hope for the old building yet. There are a few erstwhile "cultural centers" in the former Soviet Union that again have the Divine Liturgy celebrated in them after a nearly century-long hiatus.