A Unique Diocesan Connection to Black History Month

February is Black History Month, and the Diocese of Las Vegas takes pride in being one of the few dioceses in North America to have a cathedral designed by a Black person. When mobster Moe Dalitz donated land on the Strip to the Catholic Church in 1961, Las Vegas was a sliver of the size that it is today.

Architect Paul Revere Williams was commissioned to design what was then called Guardian Angel Shrine. Williams, born in 1894, lost both of his parents before the age of three to tuberculosis. He graduated from the University of Southern California and became the first licensed Black architect west of the Mississippi. As a result of systemic racism, and his clients’ refusal to sit beside him during renderings, Williams developed the skill of drawing precise architectural plans upside down. Over the course of his career, Paul Williams designed over 2000 buildings including the private residences of Frank Sinatra and comedy couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

The Guardian Angel Shrine was elevated to co-cathedral status in 1977. With the creation of our diocese in 1995, it became simply known as Guardian Angel Cathedral. Unique not only for its architecture and mosaics, Guardian Angel Cathedral is also one of a handful of churches worldwide that have a special indult to celebrate vigil Masses before 4 PM.

Nestled on the Strip in between the Encore and Resorts World, Guardian Angel Cathedral serves as our spiritual home in Las Vegas as it is the seat of our Bishop, Most Rev. George Leo Thomas. If you and your family have never had the chance to visit this spiritual and cultural treasure, the Cathedral celebrates a 2:30 PM Vigil Mass on Saturdays as well as Sunday Masses at 7:30 AM, 9 AM, and 11 AM. For more information, please visit www.GACLV.org.

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