A 24-hour Adoration chapel sits on the opposite side of the baptistry. At the center of the round chapel is a tabernacle designed by the 20th-century German enamelist Egino Weinert and positioned on a pedestal of bronze that depicts images from the Gospels.
The interior of the Christ Cathedral is largely monochromatic, save for two pieces of artwork: a tapestry of the Pantocrator, and a mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The mosaic includes a crown that is removable for May crowning or other Marian celebrations.
There are also Stations of the Cross, designed by Bolivian-born sculptor Pablo Eduardo. The sculptor is currently working on artistic renditions of the manifestations of Christ's divinity, which will be installed at a later date.
Also in the works is a shrine to Our Lady of La Vang, a Marian devotion from Vietnam. The shrine is located in the campus' two-acre Marian Court, which will also include a rosary garden and space for other Marian shrines.
The diocese added festal doors, which will open only on special occasions, including the July 17 dedication of the cathedral. The doors are made of blackened steel, and a bronze band depicting the creation spreads across the middle of the doors.
The narthex also has a bronze bar depicting the end of time, and portraits of saints.
When the property was purchased, a local parish and school, located eight blocks from the campus, were relocated.
"What that meant was that a parish community that had been there for 50 years, that had built the current parish church, was now going to have to leave...and not even have a real church for some years," said Fr. Smith, who has served as pastor of St. Callistus on the Christ Cathedral campus.
The parish gathered for Mass in the Arboretum while the Christ Cathedral was under renovation.
They had 12 Masses in four languages, serving nearly 12,000 local Catholics, Fr. Smith said.
"We'll literally see people from all over the world coming here," he said. "They already do, but they're really going to be coming here when the cathedral opens."
Fr. Smith told CNA he's excited for the dedication of the cathedral, because he'll once again be able to focus on being a pastor.
He said he hopes the cathedral will help unite the diverse diocese.
"We want to build unity," Fr. Smith said. "That's a challenge, but it's also beautiful when that unity takes place."
"Cathedrals traditionally are like the downtown of the community," he said. "Somebody once said Christ Cathedral is like the 'downtown' of the Diocese of Orange."
"So if we can be a place like that, that not only offers worship, but also offers a place where the poor are cared for, where the arts are celebrated, where people are invited to pray together...I hope we can provide all that."
Christ Cathedral will be open to the public every Sunday following the dedication. It will be open daily by early 2020.
In-text photos credit: Kate Veik / CNA.
Editor's note: In response to a request from the Diocese of Orange, and as a courtesy, a potentially confusing quote from a diocesan representative was excised from this story July 17.