F Baker built a Basilica - jeepneyjinggoy

Baker built a Basilica

The Our Lady of Victory in Lackawanna, NY

YOU can call it a miracle of sorts. When one Catholic priest known for being charitable hollered to the nation of his plans to build a shrine in honor of the Blessed Mother, the response for support was swift and a Basilica was built in four years time-without debt. When blessings come, it pours.

On Christmas day of 1925, the first mass was held at the Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna New York (part of the Diocese of Buffalo), Father Nelson Baker's brainchild. It's a Catholic parish church, a national shrine and a popular pilgrimage destination in the area (which explains the presence of large tour buses in the parking lot all year round) designed by an ecclesiastical architect and built of the finest craftsmanship and materials.

The first mass was held on Christmas day of 1925

The most prominent features of the (mostly) white marble-wrapped Basilica are the 165-feet high great dome made of copper, now aged to a green patina, with four 18-feet trumpet-wielding copper angels mounted on it, and the twin towers (originally with an open design with spires made of marbles) also topped with copper domes.

A view of the Great Dome from the colonnade.

On the main entrance is a domed niche housing a 12-foot-tall, eight-ton statue of Our Lady of Victory, crafted of the finest carerra marble. Flanking this are two large colonnades extending outward the building topped with marble sculptures of children led a nun, the other by Father Baker.

12-foot statue of Our Lady of Victory crafted of the finest carerra marble

The interior is even more magnificent.

A combination of more than 40 different types, colors, and designs of Italian marble can also be found in this Basilica.

It's like stepping into a museum filled with elaborate artworks and the largest would be the 24-meter in diameter depiction of the Assumption of Mary and the Blessed Mother's Coronation on the Great Dome-the apostles and archangels along the dome's outer edge, an angelic host carries Mary towards heaven and Jesus in red robes awaiting her, and a white Dove of Peace at the pinnacle of the dome.

The largest artwork in the Basilica is at the Great Dome.

On the main altar is the 9-foot tall statue of Our Lady of Victory blessed by Pope Pius XI after being sculpted in Italy. Flanking the altar are four swirled marble columns of rare red marble, reminiscent of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

The altar holds the 9-foot statue of Our Lady of Victory sculpted in Italy.

The Stations of the Cross along the walls of the shrine are as impressive. Each life size scene is made of marble carved from a single block taking the Italian sculptor 14 years to execute.

Each scene of the 14 Stations of the Cross is carved out of a single marble block

A closer look of the magnificent marble artwork

On the southern end of the Basilica's transept is another impressive feature of the shrine- the Grotto Shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes, made out of black lava rock from Mount Vesuvius in Italy. According to Baker, he wanted a material that was "untouched by humans' to commemorate the vision of the Blessed Mother to St. Bernadette in Lourdes.

The grotto is made out of lava rock from Mt. Vesuvius.

Since the Basilica's completion, only two changes were made from the original design-one in 1941, the damaged caused by a lighting storm on the twin towers made of marble were refurbished and redesigned with a lower, copper dome-tipped towers we see today; and the other, an installation of a new copper roofing, after the harsh winter of 2001-2002 caused the deterioration of the previous roof that turned the shiny copper to a greenish hue (such is the case with the Statue of Liberty).

When in Buffalo, make this Basilica one of your stops. You will be impressed.

These three were impressed. 

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