Sunday Service Edition: Our Lady of Victory Basilica
I'm back with another photo blog post highlighting one of Western New York's grandest religious institutes: the OLV Basilica in Lackawanna, NY. One of the most visited parishes of the Diocese of Buffalo, OLV has been a WNY landmark for nearly 100 years.
In 1916, a significant fire damaged then St. Patrick's Parish where Father Baker was superintendent priest. Within the following years, Father Baker made plans to replace the parish with a much grander church. His influence and widespread connections helped pull additional funding from across the nation, as thousands of contributors gave support to building the current day church. Designed by French ecclesiastical architect Emile Ulrich, the basilica was constructed at a cost of $3.2 million and once completed, was completely paid off. The first mass was held on Christmas day in 1925 and several months later Pope Pius XI designated the shrine the honorable title of "Minor Basilica". A majority of the exterior is constructed of pure white marble, with over 40 different colors of marble found throughout the interior of the church.
The Basilica has had only two significant changes to its original design from 1925. The first came in 1941 during a lightning storm that caused significant damage to the basilica's twin towers (a style associated with Portuguese churches). Baker's first successor, Monsignor Joseph Maguire, lead the efforts to refurbish the structures. He had the marble towers replaced with the lower, enclosed, copper dome-tipped towers that still top the basilica today. The second change came decades later during the severe winter of 2001-02, which caused damage to the copper roof of the National Shrine which was soon replaced with another copper roof.Some fun facts about OLV Basilica: At the time of it's completion in 1925, the large copper dome (measuring 80 ft in diameter) was the nation's second largest of its kind behind the US Capitol Building in Washington D.C. There are four copper angels on the edge of the dome, each playing the trumpet. The original twin towers in front measured over 16 stories high, or about 165 feet. The two large colonnades in front each have marble statues, showing a group of children surrounding an angel. Near the altar, at one end of the pews, stands the umbraculum, a symbolic umbrella which is kept half open until the Pope visits the basilica and completely opens it. The original organ, which has since been replaced due to deterioration, was a customer built 54 rank Wurlitzer. There are hundreds of painting inside the basilica, with an estimated 2000 angels represented throughout as Baker's original plan called for an angel in every possible sight line throughout.
* Information sourced from OLV's official website. For more information on Our Lady of Victory, please visit http://www.ourladyofvictory.org/