Sunday, September 6, 2015
The Mystery of Loretto Chapel
Whenever I visit Santa Fe New Mexico, there is one place I always have to visit before I leave the area and that is the tiny Loretto Chapel.
The construction of this picturesque little church was completed in 1878. However, the only way to reach the choir loft inside the church was with a ladder.
Because the chapel is very narrow, seating inside was at a premium.
The sisters consulted many carpenters but none of them could figure out a way to build a staircase that wouldn't cut out a large section of seating.
The legend says that after determining that there was no logical way to build stairs that would not significantly decrease the capacity of the church, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of praying, a man appeared at the Chapel with a toolbox perched on his donkey as asked for work. The Sisters put him to work on the problem and months later, the beautiful and elegant circular staircase was finished.
The carpenter who built it left without pay or even a thank you from the Sisters and church's community.
The Sisters conducted a search for the man and even placed an ad in the local newspaper trying to find him but, the search turned up not a trace.
Soon the Sisters began to believe that it was St. Joseph himself who had come to answer their prayers.
The design of the staircase was very innovative for the time. It contains two 360 degree turns and there is no visible means of support. It was built without nails, only wooden pegs. Other mysteries surround the wood that was used since it is said to not be a wood found in this region of New Mexico.
Regardless of whether it's construction really was a miraculous event or not, I still find it a work of art and I enjoying seeing it every time I visit the city. The Chapel is privately owned now and there is an admission fee to visit the inside. It can be commissioned for special occasions like weddings.