Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland

Dedicated in 2008, the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California, is a magnificent example of modern religious architecture. Its unique circular design is impressive in appearance while also being practical for worship, religiously symbolic, and sustainable for future generations.


History of the Cathedral of Christ the Light

The first recorded Mass in the East Bay area of Oakland was officiated by a Spanish Franciscan friar in 1772. A mission was established in the area a few decades later and the Catholic community continued to grow as it welcomed immigrants from Ireland, Portugal, Germany, and Italy in the 19th century.

In 1962, the Diocese of Oakland was established. The Church of St. Francis de Sales in the city center became the first Oakland Cathedral. Sadly, this was destroyed beyond repair in the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989. The present cathedral stands on the same site.

Plans for the present cathedral got underway in 2000 and construction began in 2005. The lead architect was Craig Hartman of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, in consultation with Walter Netsch, who designed the equally modern and impressive Cadet Chapel in Colorado. The Cathedral of Christ the Light was dedicated on September 25, 2008.

The cathedral's name is inspired by a document of Vatican II which proclaimed "Christ is the Light of all nations."

What to See at the Cathedral of Christ the Light

Made of concrete, glass and wood, the Cathedral of Christ the Light stands overlooks the water in Oakland's East Bay. Instead of the traditional cross-shape of most cathedrals, it has a unique circular design with the altar placed at the center. Reflecting the cathedral's name, light is the main focus of the interior. An oculus window allows a view of the sky and sunlight to shine directly on the altar. The architect describes his creation this way:

The cathedral uses the latest technology and techniques for sustainability. Its extensive use of glass provides abundant natural light and heat throughout the day, while further warmth is provided by the attractive lining of wooden slats, made from sustainable Douglas Fir.

A system of natural convection, along with the concrete in the structure, helps keep the interior cool in the summer. And even the concrete is special: it is made of industrial waste fly ash, a byproduct of coal production that takes less energy to produce than traditional cement.

In accordance with the Diocese's instructions, the cathedral was designed to last 300 years, particularly through earthquakes.

Quick Facts on the Cathedral of Christ the Light

Site Information
Names:Cathedral of Christ the Light · Christ the Light Cathedral
Dedication: Christ
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:37.810547° N, 122.263112° W
Address:2121 Harrison Street
Oakland, California
Phone:(510) 271-1928
Email:[email protected]
Lodging:View hotels near the Cathedral of Christ the Light
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.


  1. The Cathedral of Christ the Light: Hallmark Events - official website
  2. Cathedral of Christ the Light Opens with Dedication Mass - SOM (Architects)
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Map of the Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland

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