All Hallows Catholic Church, founded in 1959, lies atop La Jolla’s Mount Soledad, close to the world-famous Soledad Cross. Its situation and architecture take advantage of a breath-taking panorama of sky, sea and greenery. The church’s west wall is completely glass, backing the altar, and permitting a magnificent seaward view during worship.
The church is a contemporary adaptation of 12th Century Norman style common throughout Western Europe. The Norman Church of some eight hundred years ago was the principal building of the community, the focal point of the town’s pride in its spiritual life, and a landmark for the wanderer. It symbolizes humankind’s emergence from the Dark Ages. The exterior east wall contains 38 tons of Calavera stone, which was quarried near Oceanside.
The carved stone altar and baptismal font are the work of the 100-year old Raffo Company of Pietrasanto, Italy. During the renovation of the Church in 1982, the altar was cut down in size and the excess marble was used to decorate the new ambo, and to construct the baptismal pool that flows from the baptismal font. Now people can kneel in the pool and have the water poured over them at baptism, as was done for 1,500 years in the church.
The ambo is decorated with four panels containing representations of the Evangelists: Matthew, an angel; Mark, a lion; Luke, an ox; and John, an eagle. These representations originated as early Christian theologians’ interpretations of Ezekiel 1: 4-12.
Suspended over the altar is a carved Crucifix of the risen Christ.
The eighteen side windows contain, in stained glass with leaded effects, the fourteen Stations of the Cross.
The glass entry doors flank a glass etching of St. John the Baptist baptizing Jesus.
To the left of the altar is the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, where the Belgian silver tabernacle is under a silk and cotton tent. It is designed to recall the saving of the manna for the Sabbath during the Israelites’ 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. On each door is a symbol of Christ — on the left door is a relief of a pelican pricking its breast to feed it’s young, and on the right door, the Pascal Lamb.
Possibly the most beautiful single object in the Church is the antique style, twenty-four and one-half foot high glass window in the east wall. The design for this window was developed by Franz-Nieszen of the Botz-Miesen firm in Cologne, Germany. This famous firm has received many important commissions including some from the Vatican.
The spread-winged dove in the top of the window represents the Holy Spirit, the eye represents God the Father. The large central figure is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Below, kneeling in adoration are the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. In the peripheral panes: Top left, the Apostles; lower left, the Martyrs; top right, the Prophets; lower right, St. Mark and St. Luke representing the entire community of Saints. At the base are choirs of angels in adoration.
All Hallows’ perfect location and masterful combination of the contemporary and Renaissance have created a church of exquisite beauty that has become a haven for tranquility and worship.