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Outfitting a Saint PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia   
Thursday, 24 April 2014 07:18

Few people can say that they’ve designed clothes for a saint. But Mission Hills-based artist Lalo Garcia will be able to make that claim starting this Sunday, April 27, when popes John Paul II and John XXIII are canonized in the Vatican.

Garcia, known for his sacred paintings and artwork, was the artist who designed the vestments worn by Pope John Paul II during his only visit to Los Angeles in September 1987.

“It’s surreal to say you’ve designed clothing for a saint,” he said of the experience that fills him with pride.

Back then he was the director of a company that specialized in sacred art, which was given the task of coming up with the clothing the Pope would wear while visiting Los Angeles.

“It was truly a blessing, but also a lot of responsibility,” said Garcia, who designed the “chasuble,” the outermost sacramental garment priests and bishops wear during mass. He also designed two stoles, the long, narrow strip of cloth draped around the neck, and the “mitre,” the ceremonial head dress of bishops.

In addition, Garcia designed the mitres worn by more than 300 bishops during the Pope’s visit to LA.

The Pope wore the stoles designed by Garcia during his mass at Dodger Stadium and during a conference held at the Universal Amphitheater.

The red chasuble the Pope wore for his mass at Dodger Stadium was especially striking, made with pieces of clothing from throughout the world. It symbolized a “mosaic of colors” and represented “the diversity of cultures and people that we have in the city, the union of races, which was the message the Pope was trying to give during his visit,” Garcia recalled.

All of these pieces, as well as other items worn by Pope John Paul II during his visit, are on exhibit at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. There will be a vigil and a special mass celebrating his canonization. Garcia will be one of the speakers during a vigil at the cathedral on Saturday, April 26, where he will talk about his experience.

“(The canonization is) a little strange because it’s usually a long process and to hear that in one’s lifetime you will meet a saint, it's surreal,” Garcia said.

Pope John Paul II died in 2005. Others, like Saint Juan Diego, who is venerated in Mexico after Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared before him in 1531, waited nearly 500 years before gaining sainthood in 2002.

John Paul II

Born Karol Józef Wojtyla in 1920, the Polish John Paul II was the second longest-serving pope (1978-2005) in history, and the first non-Italian since Pope Adrian VI, who died in 1523.

He is recognized as helping to end communism in his native Poland and the rest of Europe, and for having visited 129 countries during his pontificate. The call for his canonization began soon after his death in 2005. He was proclaimed venerable by his successor Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, and was beatified in 2011 when a miracle was attributed to him, the healing of a French nun from Parkinson’s disease. A second miracle was approved in July 2013.

“Pope John Paul II was a gift from God for our times,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez in a press release. “He was a man of the Eucharist and a true spiritual father for our world. Our Archdiocese came together in celebration during his visit in 1987, and we will gather once again to rejoice his canonization. He was truly a saint among us, and he continues to bring us closer to Christ through his example.”

John Paul II will hold the record for the fastest saint to be canonized in the history of the Catholic Church.


Born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, this Italian was Pope from 1958 to his death in 1963. He was the first to take the pontificate name of “John” in the history of the church. He was beatified in 2000 by Pope John Paul II and, after bypassing the traditionally required second miracle, Pope Francis approved his canonization in 2013.

He is most well known for organizing the Second Vatican Council of 1962-1965, which brought the most sweeping church reforms in centuries, including having masses in local languages instead of Latin, cooperation with Orthodox and Protestant Christians, and rejection of anti-Semitism.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 April 2014 07:23