on March 22, 2008
Seeing the legendary Miraculous Staircase made our 20-minute visit to Loretto Chapel a fascinating stop during our day of sightseeing in the Santa Fe Plaza. The story of the stairs began with the chapel's construction that was completed in the 1870's but without a means to get to the choir loft. There was no room to build a staircase in this small sanctuary. The nuns of the church prayed a novena to St. Joseph the Carpenter. On the ninth day, a man carrying a hammer, a saw, and water showed up offering to build a staircase. Upon completion of the staircase several months later, the man disappeared without asking for payment and was never heard from again. The spiral staircase the mysterious man built contains two 360-degree turns with no visible means of support! Furthermore, it was built without nails - only wooden pegs. The staircase has been the subject of TV specials and movies.Loretto Chapel is now a privately-owned museum. There is a small entrance fee ($2.50/person at the time of our visit). Inside the dimly-lit sanctuary, there is a continuous audio playing that tells the story of the Miraculous Staircase. Although supports and banisters were added to the stairway at the request of the nuns several years after construction, it is roped off today to prevent visitors from climbing it. Of course there are always those who want to bend the rules. We saw some adult tourists push the rope aside so they could have their picture taken on the steps. Fortunately, the others in their group told them to put the rope back and to come away from the steps. Unbelievable! We finished up our chapel visit with a quick look through the adjacent gift shop where religious souvenirs and books are sold.Loretto Chapel is located behind La Fonda Hotel and is only a short walk from the center of the Santa Fe Plaza. Hearing the story of the Miraculous Staircase and entering the peaceful sanctuary made Loretto Chapel a worthwhile stop during our time in Santa Fe.
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