Roman Catholic leaders from across the country and the Vatican, including six cardinals, will gather today for a pageant of color, music and ritual to dedicate the new Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in downtown Houston.
The ceremony will begin with a 30-minute procession of more than 200 deacons and 300 priests and bishops.
It's precisely the kind of event the $49 million co-cathedral was constructed to accommodate.
"In sign and symbol, the whole church is here," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. "We can boast in Houston ... people of every nation here. I think we will see a multiplicity of ethnic groups and nations in the people who come."
Though the official opening is today, the pews of the co-cathedral were nearly filled Tuesday for an evening prayer service led by retired Auxiliary Bishop Vincent M. Rizzotto.
For some in the crowd, the vespers service was a first look at the inside of the co-cathedral after more than a decade of planning, fundraising, designing and building.
"There really are no words to describe it," said Elizabeth Gonzalez of Houston, who came with her husband, René. "It is peaceful. It is just beautiful. The pictures online don't do it justice."
That's saying a lot, because the pictures online (scroll down, on the left) nearly popped my eyeballs out of my skull. Make sure you go all the way to the end for the history of the Catholic church in Houston dating back to 1876.
Update (4/3): Here's the schedule for services and tours.