Beholding the Sacred

Church of the Precious Blood

The Church of the Precious Blood in the Westlake area of Los Angeles dates to the 1920s when it was formed from the communities of St. Basil’s Church and Immaculate Conception to meet the growing population of this area.

The setting of Precious Blood is unique in that the church is located on the V-shaped corner of Occidental Blvd. and Hoover St. 

The church was designed by Truesdale & Newton in 1924 and completed by Newton & Murray in 1926.  The church is Italian Romanesque in style.  The façade is ornamented by a large portal, rimmed by cast ornament surmounted by an elaborate tympanum mosaic. The lintel is inscribed with Iesus Christus heri et hodie ipse et in saecula – “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” cf. Hebrews 13:8. The trumeau separating the central doors depicts a stone sculpture of Christ Salvatore Cartaino Scarpitta (Scarpitta designed the façade sculptures at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Los Angeles County Hospital and the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange).  The façade is divided by a course of blind arcades, within each arc is a mosaic depicting symbols of the seven sacraments. Above the center arc is a relief carving of a lamb, and just above it, the rose window with twelve columns extending from the center and rimmed by an elaborate laurel design.  To the left of the rose windows is a bas-relief depiction of the wounded hand of Christ, and to the right of the window is a bas-relief of a chalice. 
The lavish interior was completed over the several decades after the church was constructed.  The Stations of the Cross were added in 1933, and the rich Venetian mosaics in the apse in 1951.  The latter is the design and craftsmanship of famed artist, Millard Sheets (think Home Savings and Loans [now Chase] bank facades). 

The church is layed out in the form of a Latin cross.  No details were spared in creating this sacred space.  The up-lights on the nave columns are decorated by different symbols including, a dove, a mitre, and the papal tiara.  The confessionals feature delicate carvings.  In the stairwell to the choir loft, one can find a gruesome gargoyle. The high church is dimly illuminated by filtered light coming through rich stained-glass windows.  

The massive walls, colored light streaming from lofty windows, and coolness of the structure, create a prayerful refuge for visitors.  

The Church of the Precious Blood is located at:
435 S. Occidental Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90057

Church of the Precious Blood

Los Angeles, CA

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