on March 30, 2002
The Loretto Chapel is an absolute gem of a place. Tall and narrow like Saint-Chapelle in Paris after which it was modeled, its gothic touches – spires, ornate moldings, and even a rose window – stands out in this adobe town. The stained glass which fills the small chapel with beautiful light was made in Paris and brought the last leg of its journey along the Santa Fe Trail.
It’s claim to fame, however, is the "Miraculous Staircase" and its mysterious origins. In the mid-19th century, Archbishop Lamy brought an order of nuns (the Sisters of Loretto) west to establish a girls school. The chapel was built with a choir loft, but no access to it other than the suggestion that they use a ladder - a totally unacceptable suggestion. The nuns prayed to St. Joseph for an solution to their dilemma and their prayers were answered by the arrival of a carpenter who built a spiral staircase, completely of wood, including the pegs he used rather than nails. This magnificant staircase, which has two complete 360 degree turns, has no visible means of support. The carpenter, whose name is unknown, vanished before he could be paid for his work, adding to the mystery.
The small entrance fee is well worth the view of the chapel. The interior is a marvel of workmanship, especially the staircase.
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