Patrick McPartland/Staff Photographer - The Sisters of St. Joseph, as a gift for Father Baker, made this green silk chasuble. According to documentation, Father Baker used the chasuble in 1915. The chasuble and other artifacts are on display at the Father Baker Museum below Our Lady of Victory Basilica, Lackawanna.
Open for a few years now, the Father Baker Museum located in the basement of Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna has added several new exhibits and artifacts, the highlight of which is a silk chasuble, an outer liturgical vestment, which was worn by the Venerable Nelson Baker during his life.
The Sisters of St. Joseph as a gift for Father Baker made the green silk chasuble. According to documentation, Father Baker used the chasuble in 1915.
“(The Sisters of St. Joseph) were very good friends with Father Baker,” said Sheila Wailer, spokeswoman for Our Lady of Victory Basilica. “They handmade this for him for times during the Christian year when green would be appropriate.”
At some point, the original chasuble was sent to Holy Cross Church in Buffalo. Msgr. David Gallivan discovered the garment while cleaning out some closets at the church in 1999. He quickly informed the diocesan archives of his discovery.
“We do know that Father Baker cherished this (chasuble) because it was made by his friends,” Wailer said. “The colors are extraordinary and you can see that great care was taken in every detail.”
The museum is also now displaying Father Baker’s Positio, the official collection of documents that makes the case for his canonization to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The red covered book is located near the exit to the museum, along with the Vatican decree that declared Father Baker “Venerable” last year, along with some memorabilia.
Several other personal artifacts of Father Baker’s have been put on display, including a shaving kit, an engraved cane and his glasses, all located in the replica of Father Baker’s bedroom that is the centerpiece of the museum. Those men who knew Father Baker when he was alive, popularly known as the Baker Boys, offered descriptions to basilica officials on how his bedroom was actually laid out.
Among the items in the replica bedroom are Father Baker’s original bed sheets, monogrammed with his initials and believed to be the sheets he passed away on in 1936. Wailer explained those bed sheets were actually returned to the basilica recently, as many of Father Baker’s personal items vanished before and after his passing. Eventually, many of those items find their way back to Our Lady of Victory.
“On occasion, we’ll get calls from random members of the community who will say their so-and-so (relative) was a housekeeper of Father Baker’s or whatever,” she said. “Even back then, (those people) knew he was destined for greatness. Many of the staff and the Father Baker Boys – if they got their hands on something, they would take it.”
The Father Baker Museum was expanded and renovated several years ago, finally opening in late 2009. The revamped 7,800-square-foot space includes a detailed timeline of Father Baker’s life, as well as his journey through the canonization process. Open seven days a week, the museum and attached gift shop has seen growing attendance following Father Baker’s “Venerable” designation.
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