1ABSTRACTSince 1986, the Catholic Our Lady of Victory (OLV) parish of Lackawanna, NYand the diocese of Buffalo have been working to secure canonization for Father NelsonH. Baker (1842-1936), founder of the North American branch of the Association of Our Lady of Victory and the OLV Basilica and Institutes, which, among other services,included a hospital, orphanage and school. Lackawanna is also the site of the BethlehemSteel Plant closings of the early 1980s, which have come to symbolize the Buffaloregion's difficult and troubled transition to a post-industrial economy. Thus, I frame mydissertation with the overall idea that the possibility of Baker's sainthood offers hope for economic recovery to the city of Lackawanna. Specifically, this work seeks to combinethe study of material history with the study of lived religion by using performativity as atheoretical tool. Through a comprehensive presentation of the material history of Father Nelson H. Baker from the 1880s to 2006, I demonstrate that material history is asignificant, integral and vital component of lived religion. Further, I make the case thatdevotional practices include creative acts that both provide evidence of Baker’s sanctityfor his cause and contribute to the performative nature of his material history. As such,this work attempts 1) to fill in a gap in the scholarship about contemporary Catholicsainthood in the U.S. by focusing on a specific cause for sainthood, 2) to further developan understanding of the communal processes of representing sanctity, 3) to offer a way of combining analyses of the built environment, material, print and visual culture with thestudy of lived religion, and 4) to expand the scope of scholarly approaches to Catholicdevotional practices by demonstrating that in the Baker case, devotional practices involvea cooperative effort by both official and popular agents in the creation of material itemsto promote and further a cause. Visual materials are presented in the body of the text inJPEG format.