Church of the Angels is the oldest operating church along the Arroyo Seco.
Building the Church
The cornerstone of The Church of the Angels was laid Easter Eve, April 20, 1889, and the church consecrated on St. Michael and All Angels Day, September 29, of the same year. What was then the Mission of the Church of the Angels became a parish of the Diocese of Los Angeles on June 19, 1901.
The Church of the Angels, which served the Bishop of Los Angeles as his pro-cathedral until St. Paul's Church was constituted, was designated the Bishop's Chapel on November 29, 1889, a "chapel-of-ease" to the pro-cathedral. Since that time, the Bishop of Los Angeles has served as rector, with his chaplain appointed vicar in charge of all services.
The church is patterned after Holmbury St Mary's Church, near Dorking, Surrey, England, although it is not an exact copy. It is set in a garden of three acres and is faced with sandstone hauled from quarries in the San Fernando valley. The San Rafael Ranch, of which Garvanza was a part, supplied the red stone that was incorporated into the structure. The interior walls of the church are of red pressed brick, and the ceiling is of redwood, both of which have mellowed through the years to give a soft warmth.
A 44-foot stone tower, characteristic of the 11th century, houses an eight-day Seth Thomas clock that denotes the hours by striking a bell suspended in the belfry. The stone sundial and its landscaped heart-shaped setting is a memorial to Mrs. Campbell-Johnston, donated by her sons.
Maintaining the Church
There have been three major repairs to the building since its construction. The wooden parquet floor of the nave, which had become unsafe, was replaced. And after the 1971 earthquake, it was necessary to shorten the tower because of structural damage. In celebration of the church's centennial in 1989, the funds were raised to rebuild the bell tower to its original height and to seismically strengthen and structurally reinforce the church. At the same time, many of the original architectural features of the exterior of the church were re-established and restored.
The Church of the Angels is an exquisite space to commune with God and with one another. If you’ve found yourself longing for a more intimate, sacred environment in which to practice your faith, we know that you’ll feel at home inside our stone chapel, facing our magnificent stained-glass window. In some ways, the beauty of our church building reflects our faith itself; we honor the tried-and-true ways of the past, while simultaneously raising them up into the present.
We are indeed thankful to Almighty God for the preservation of this church from physical harm through the years. We pray that for generations to come parishioners and visitors alike may find it truly the House of God.
Art within the Church
The magnificent memorial window, which depicts the discovery of Jesus' open tomb on Easter Morning, was designed and executed in London and is said to be one the finest examples of stained glass in America. The altar and chancel furniture are veneered with olive wood donated by the Franciscan Fathers from the grounds of the Mission San Gabriel. The lectern, exquisitely carved in the form of St Michael the Archangel, was designed by the eminent English sculptor W. R. Ingram and executed in a carving school in Belgium. The body is made of one solid piece of a Bog oak tree that was more than 400 years old. The carved pulpit of English oak with white Portland stone base, was erected at the 40th anniversary of the opening of the church. Near the main entrance is the baptistery in which stands a font of Mexican alabaster with a figure, carved from Italian marble, of a child angel kneeling at the base and holding a cross. The font was a gift from the workers who built the church.
The church organ
A special aspect of sung worship at Church of the Angels is the organ. The instrument dates back to 1889 — in fact, it is the oldest organ in Southern California to remain in its original church building. We have carefully maintained this beautiful instrument throughout the years; its rich sound has become an important part of the services at the church.