"she did it all"

Of all of the countless relationships on which the long history of the OLV organizations has been built, perhaps the most foundational is the one between Venerable Nelson Baker and the Blessed Mother, under the title of Our Lady of Victory.

Father Baker’s life changed when, as a seminarian, he visited Notre Dame des Victoires Church in Paris in 1874.  While we don’t know exactly what happened on that warm day, a colleague writes of Nelson:

“He knelt at the communion rail, still gazing at the statue [of Our Lady of Victory].  And then his words came in a torrent of whispers: ‘From now on, I shall devote my life to your service. I shall devote all my thoughts and actions to your name.’”

Throughout Father Baker’s life, this commitment was evident.  Every accomplishment, new building, or penny that showed up unexpectedly in support of his mission – all were credited to her divine goodness.  “She did it all!” was his exclamation whenever anyone sought to credit the humble priest, himself, with an impressive feat or deed.

The following, taken from his own writings, show the extent of his trust in the Blessed Mother:

“If we have succeeded in our work, it is because we have had unbounded confidence in God’s Holy Mother, as she has been pleased always to extend to us her generous aid; in our poverty and want, surrounded by every need, when one hardly knew which way to turn, Mary always came to our rescue and opened to us the pathway of success.”

And throughout the 50 years that followed his trip to France, Father Baker continued to honor his patroness – her title becoming synonymous with the “City of Charity” he was building.  Our Lady of Victory (OLV) Infant Home, OLV Hospital, Victoria Well (a natural gas well he discovered to heat his organizations) all paid tribute to Mary.  

His crowning achievement in her name, however, came at the end of his life. A fire at St. Patrick’s Church gave Father Baker an opportunity to cap off his lifelong devotion to Our Lady.  In July of 1921, at the age of 79, he announced:

“The time has come when our Blessed Lord thought the humble Shrine dedicated to His Blessed Mother should give way to a temple more worthy; a Shrine that will give expression of the sincere and devout love of the devoted lovers of Mary!”

Just five years later, the wondrous Our Lady of Victory Basilica was completed and consecrated.  At that time, it was only the second shrine in the U.S. to carry such a lofty designation.    

Throughout his life and the decades that have followed, Venerable Nelson Baker’s relationship with the Blessed Mother has borne much fruit, indeed!  Countless lives have been positively impacted by the OLV organizations as his “legacy of caring” continues to this day.  Indeed, this very special, divine partnership has done so much for so many.