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Home > Our City > Buffalo My City > Buffalo My City Watercolors > The Magnificent Basilica Our Lady of Victory

The Magnificent Basilica Our Lady of Victory


Our Lady of Victory Basilica and National Shrine stands as a source of inspiration amidst the century old Father Baker institution on Victory Hill. The elegant, Italian Renaissance structure is located in the heart of Lackawanna, New York, a small steel town know as the "City of Charity" due to the great works and faith of one man: Father Nelson Henry Baker.

In Thanksgiving to God and in honor of Our Lady, Father Baker oversaw the construction of an ornate shrine to Our Lady! After five years of work, the Church was dedicated and consecrated on May 25th 1926 by Cardinal Patrick Hayes and Bishop William Turner. Two months later Pope Pius XI elevated the Shrine to a minor Basilica, making it the second such church in the United States.

The architectural splendor of the Shrine is reminiscent of the great European churches built during the renaissance and is credited to Emile M. Ulrich of Cleveland, Ohio.

The entire interior design and paintings are the works of Professor Gonippo Raggi, a famed artist from Rome, Italy. Elwood S. Jordan, a parishioner and former pupil at the parish school was named general contractor. Buffalo craftsman and businesses did all associated work. In the fall of 1921, the Memorial Art Company laid the granite foundation. Machwirth Brothers produced the copper dome and the four copper angels to encircle it. 1. W. Danforth Company installed the heating and ventilation systems and underground ducts. Otto F. Andrle Stained Glass and Art Institute created nearly 200 strikingly beautiful stained glass windows. The Marine Trust Company handled the financial arrangements of the production of the Basilica.

The Basilica is constructed almost entirely of marble from the Georgia Marble Company of Tate, Georgia. A combination of over 40 different types, color, and designs if Italian marble form the interior floors, walls, pillars, statures, and altars. Italy's Benzinger Marble Company sculpted the 56 figure stations of the cross, the nine foot statue of Our Lady on the main altar, and the statue of Our Lady with its two kneeling angels in the outside niche of the Basilica's main entrance.

The rest of the major marble work in the basilica interior was provided by the Lorretti Brothers of Pietrosanto, Italy. They started work on the project in January 1924. This included 16,500 square feet of marble flooring as well as walls, pillars, pulpit, life size angels, stairways, altars, 40 statues and all of the bronze work.

The Shrine was consecrated on May 25, 1926 after 5 years of construction. Cardinal Patrick Hayes officiated at the ceremony. Bishop William Turner of the diocese of Buffalo assisted. On July 26, 1926, Pope Pius XI designated the Shrine as a minor Basilica, a title conferred upon a church because of religious or historical importance.

The magnificent Rev. Nelson Henry Baker Passed on to God July 29, 1936 at the age of 95.