New Documentary Looks at Construction of OLV Basilica

January 6, 2014 Updated Jan 6, 2014 at 9:08 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

January 6, 2014 Updated Jan 6, 2014 at 9:08 PM EDT

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WKBW) Our Lady of Victory Basilica is considered an architectural, artistic, and religious masterpiece.

Opened in 1926, it was the fulfillment of a dream by Father Nelson Baker to create a special church to honor the Blessed Mother.

Father Baker was 79-years old when he contacted French-born architect Emile Uhlrich about building a place that would be filled with paintings, sculptures, stained glass windows. and special ornamental fixtures.

Uhlirich had worked on a church in Olean, one that impressed Father Baker, but for the most part, he was not well known in the Buffalo area.

New documents recently discovered show that Father Baker and the architect both had very strong opinions about the project - which sometimes led to disagreements.

In the end though, the two-strong willed men developed a lasting legacy that still inspires today.

Daybreak TV Productions, from the Diocese of Buffalo, spent the last two years researching documents about the construction for a documentary titled "Building a Basilica."

The documentary tells the story of the construction as taken from letters actually written by Father Baker and Emile Uhlrich.

Producers also had access to rare archival material, including unseen film from Bethlehem Steel.

One of the amazing facts about the Basilica is the cost and how it was paid.

Father Baker had no money for the project, yet when the Church opened its doors, the entire construction cost (over $3 million dollars) had been paid with donations.

Each year, thousands of people travel to Lackawanna to visit the Basilica and pray at the tomb of Father Baker (located inside the Basilica).

The effort to have Venerable Father Baker declared a saint continues as medical experts in Rome examine reports connected to an undisclosed possible miracle.

On January 14, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate a decree recognizing Fr. Baker's "heroic virtue," a prerequisite for his eventual beatification

The 60 minute "Building a Basilica" documentary will be premiered at the Canisius College Montante Cultural Center on Friday January 10th at 6pm.

Afterwards, it will be shown on ABC television stations across the country, including WKBW-TV which will air the documentary at noon on January 19th.