Furnishings + Treasures
Medieval Gothic cathedrals symbolized the heavenly city, new Jerusalem, come down to earth, with the Sacrificed Lamb (Christ, the High Altar), the river of life (Baptismal Font) and healing Edenic trees (nave piers) of the Book of Revelation. Grace Cathedral is centered around these sacred liturgical furnishings and has a wide variety of other furnishings and less-often-seen treasures. As one enters the cathedral, the Baptismal Font is intentionally prominent at the center. Through the baptismal rite of blessed water individuals enter the church community. They join in the Eucharist or Holy Communion, the central rite of Christianity, ingesting the symbolic body and blood of Christ. This takes place at the High Altar at the center of the cathedral, a new (1964) position replacing the former apse altar, and allowing fuller community participation. The stark modern Altar is made of Sierra granite and coastal redwood, natural California materials. The side altar in the Chapel of Grace is a French Knight Hospitaller and Prior altar-tomb (empty) from c. 1521. It supports a detailed Flemish-made altarpiece of similar date showing the passion of Christ. In the cathedral choir is the bishop’s cathedra or official seat, near the organ console.
Along the nave walls are murals by Polish-born John De Rosen (1949-50) and Bolivian-born Antonio Sotomayor (1982-83). De Rosen’s unfinished series features world church and Anglo-Episcopal church themes. Of note are the Francis Drake and St. Francis murals. Sotomayor’s led formal Grace Church/Cathedral history series includes murals of Grace Chapel (1849) and Grace Church destruction (1906). Also of interest are the California wildflower kneelers at the sanctuary rail (1964) and the more extensive California fauna series (2000) in the choir stalls.
Other furnishings of interest include the ‘Smiling Saint Francis’ statue by Benjamin Bufano near the labyrinth, the superb Brussels tapestry of the Risen Christ from the former Crocker mansion, and the moving Aragonese crucifix (1240) near the Chapel of Grace. Robert Lenz’s Mary Magdalene icon can be compared with medieval Greek icons in the apse. Also, the Rossellino Madonna and Child plaque (1460) can be compared with paintings on the theme by a Bellini follower and Florentine Antonio del Ceraiolo. The Brotherhood Plaque near the entrance has worldwide quotations promoting peace and harmony. Bronze tower doors by Bruce Moore and wyvern dragons around the central fleche/spire are among additional sights.
Hidden treasures include chalices from Grace Church (1867) in weekly use, other historic plate, rare early printed books, brass rubbings, paintings, sculpture and relics excavated from the Crocker mansion sites in the cathedral archives.
For further information contact the cathedral archivist, Michael Lampen at email@example.com.