Triumph of the Spirit: OLV Basilica

By Charlie Fashana

Published on | Last Updated

In Buffalo, we humbly celebrate – wait, strike that – we flat out brag about our architecture, boasting buildings from likes of Louis Sullivan, H.H. Richardson, and that Frank Lloyd Wright guy.

Rightfully so, those structures, in all their revolutionary magnificence, deserve the notoriety. But they sometimes overshadow the steeples, domes and bell towers of our churches that are just as awe-inspiring.

Let me tell you, I’ve visited some of the world’s greatest churches: St. Patrick’s in New York City, Notre Dame in Paris, St. Paul’s in London, St. Mark’s in Venice, and of course St. Peter’s at the Vatican.

You wouldn’t think to include a church just minutes from Buffalo, New York in the same sentence as any of the aforementioned, but I will.

Let me introduce you to Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna.

While construction began on the church only 100 years ago, and finished in 1925, stepping inside can take you back centuries.

Hand paintings adorn the walls and dome ceilings, hand sculpted marble statues line the perimeters, hand carved African mahogany was turned into rows of pews. I think you get the point here – it’s artistic mastery.

What I found almost as remarkable was that skilled work was done in Buffalo. One story our tour guide shared was about the disbelief of visitors that the stained glass windows weren’t created in Italy or somewhere in Europe. Otto F. Andrle Stained Glass in Buffalo was responsible for them all, and proved their origin by laying out the blueprints for each right within the church for everyone to see.

For anyone with an appreciation of architectural and artistic beauty, a visit and a tour is a must. And if you happen to be Catholic or Christian – it doesn’t get much better. Beyond OLV’s beauty, it is also the final resting place of Venerable Nelson Baker.

Tours are held after the noon mass every Sunday (as well as by appointment).

Our Lady of Victory Basilica is currently in the midst of their Centennial Celebration over the next five years. With special programming, tours and events, it’s the perfect time to visit OLV Basilica. Find more information here:

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Charlie Fashana

At work I'm part artist, part scientist. At home I'm part husband, part dad. Here and always, I'm all Buffalo.