restricted access Father Nelson Baker and the Blessed Virgin Mary: A Lifetime of Devotion

Monsignor Nelson Baker (1842–1936), an iconic figure in Western New York through his administration of two institutions that served orphaned boys and an infant home for unwed mothers and their children, found his inspiration for ministry through his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. A casual and unscheduled visit to the Church of Our Lady of Victory in Paris, while a member of a pilgrimage to Rome, inaugurated for Baker a lifetime of devotion to Mary under this title. For fifty-four years as superintendent of “The Second Holy City,” in Lackawanna, just south of Buffalo, Baker found his inspiration through Our Lady of Victory. Through his two chief organs, The Annals of Our Lady of Victory and The Victorian, Baker’s ministry in Mary’s name attracted national attention. His crowning achievement, however, was his construction of the Basilica of Our Lady of Victory, chronologically the third church so designated in the United States and today a national shrine. By any standard, Nelson Baker’s (known to history as Father Baker) efforts to minister to those on the margins were significant, but they would not have been possible without the inspiration he received from Mary, Our Lady of Victory.