Results 1-10of 10 Reviews
Santa Fe, New Mexico
May 31, 2010
From journal Living It, Loving It
July 20, 2009
Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel
June 20, 2008
From journal Santa Fe's Sharp Soft-Lines
March 22, 2008
From journal Santa Fe and Around the Way
February 11, 2005
New Mexico is a state that, on the surface, may not look like much more than barren stretches of desert and scrub. Dig a little deeper and you will find one of the most fascinating places on earth. We spent several days in New Mexico touring national parks and actually could have spent weeks doing it. But there is more than just national parks.
We altered our course a bit to make a side trip into Santa Fe, and I was glad we did. It is a place I remember going to as a child of about 8 years old with my family. It’s a quaint little town, a bit touristy but also a bit artsy. Located 7,000 feet above sea level in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this town has beautiful, crisp air and gets over 300 days of sunshine a year. They have a very Western-looking town square of adobe buildings where Native Americans sell their wares.
There is also an interesting little place called the Loretto Chapel. What makes the chapel interesting is, of all things, a staircase. When the Loretto Chapel was completed, there was no way to access the choir loft 22 feet above. Carpenters were called in to address the problem, but they all concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder, as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small chapel. To find a solution to the problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man showed up at the chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself. The staircase has two 360-degree turns and has no visible means of support. Also, it is said that the staircase was built without nails - only wooden pegs. Questions also surround the number of stair risers compared to the height of the choir loft and about the types of wood and other materials used in the stairway's construction. They even have engineering reports from several universities saying the staircase is impossible to build. It is very strong, too, as they have a picture of about 30 choir members on it at the same time. Pictures cannot portray the engineering feat of this staircase. Anyone who has done any carpentry will be amazed.
The chapel is located right off the main square and is hard to miss. They are open from 9am to 6pm during the summer and from 9am to 5pm in the winter. There is a small entrance fee and a neat little gift shop - it’s a fun little attraction.
From journal Two broke students, a $400 car, and 4,700 miles
June 11, 2002
I’m not one to visit religious shrines like Medjugorie, or check out images of the Virgin Mary appearing in a papaya, or whatnot. Loretto Chapel struck me as one of those kinds of places and I wasn’t planning on visiting. However, the chapel’s gothic spires stuck out amongst the sea of adobe I could see out my LaFonda Hotel window. Eventually curiosity got the better of me and I decided to check it out. I’m glad I went.
As the story goes, the Sisters of Loretto built the chapel as a part of the girls’ school they had founded. The designer of the chapel died before it was finished and without telling anyone how people were going to get to the choir loft. There was no obvious space for a 22-foot staircase in the small chapel. Various carpenters concluded that the only solution was to access the loft by ladder. For obvious reasons, the idea of girls in skirts climbing a ladder in a chapel just did not sit well with the sisters. They offered a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters hoping for a solution to the problem. One day, a man showed up and offered to build the staircase. He disappeared after it was finished and before the sisters could pay him and the mystery began.
The staircase has no visible means of support. It makes two 360-degree turns. Experts can’t explain how it stays together or how it supports the weight of several people. It was built with wooden pegs instead of nails. Lumberyards had no record of anyone buying wood for the chapel. No one has even identified what kind of wood it’s made of. The wood is not native to the southwest.
Legend says that St. Joseph himself built the "Miraculous Staircase." Allow me to augment the rumor even further by noting that Jesus was a carpenter too. Loretto Chapel and the Miraculous Staircase have been featured on Unsolved Mysteries and were the subject of a made for TV movie back in 1998.
Even a modern day religious skeptic like me can appreciate something like Loretto Chapel. For one, it’s a very calming place to be. The lightly painted interior has a soothing affect. Secondly, the staircase itself looks even more perplexing in person. You’ll want to walk up it to check out the choir loft, but they won’t let you.
Loretto Chapel is on Old Santa Fe Trail behind the LaFonda Hotel. It’s about a block from both the Plaza and St. Francis Cathedral. Allow a half-hour for a visit. Summer hours are 9-6 Monday–Saturday and 10:30-5 on Sunday. In the winter, it closes at 5 everyday. Admission is $2.50 for adults. Taking a cue from Disney marketers, you leave the chapel through the gift shop, which stocks mostly religious items. I’m told most stuff is overpriced. For more info, check out the chapel’s web site: www.lorettochapel.com
From journal Hanging out in Santa Fe
April 28, 2002
There was a Sunday night movie about it on TV a few years back and there have been PBS specials on it too. These days it is supported by steel braces and enforcements (probably thanks to the trial bar!) But you can not climb it anyway.
The chapel is Gothic Revival-style because unlike the other Spanish-influenced adobe churches, this one was founded by the French. There are some religious tomes playing all day. There is a gift shop there too. It costs $2 or $3 to get in.
From journal Santa Fe, New Mexico's capital
, New Mexico
March 30, 2002
From journal The City Different
by Amy Travels
Bethel Park, Pennsylvania
November 6, 2001
From journal Shopping and History in Northwestern New Mexico
Overland Park, Kansas
September 3, 2000
When the chapel was built, no plans were made to build a staircase to the choir loft. Years later, a man appeared one day to build the staircase. He did not tell the Loretto nuns his name. Each day he worked on the staircase using only a hammer, a saw and a T-square. Once the staircase was completed, he disappeared.
No nails were used to build the staircase and the wood has been tested. It has been deemed as not coming from anywhere on earth. Tests were done on the staircase that showed it physically could not hold the weight of a person. I saw three young kids stand on the staircase.
If you don't go just to see the "miraculous staircase", the story is at least worth the admission price. Pass up the gift shop. The prices for the pieces are astonishing. It's almost sickening to see something sacred made into a money-making business.
From journal The Tourist Spot