Santa Fe Site Seeing - The Loretto Chapel

By
Real Estate Agent with Sotheby's International Realty

When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft twenty-two 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.

Legend says that to find a solution to the seating 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 appeared 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, having come in answer to the sisters' prayers.

The stairway's carpenter, whoever he was, built a magnificent structure. The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today.

The staircase has two 360 degree turns and 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 relative to the height of the choir loft and about the types of wood and other materials used in the stairway's construction.

Over the years many have flocked to the Loretto Chapel to see the Miraculous Staircase. The staircase has been the subject of many articles, TV specials, and movies including "Unsolved Mysteries" and the television movie titled "The Staircase."

The Loretto Chapel
207 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87501
(505) 982-0092

The Loretto Chapel

Posted by

Victoria Murphy, ABR

Your Santa Fe expert since 1598

Comments (2)

Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Victoria, that is such a great story!  And to think, this is the same guy who helps us get out listings sold!

Mar 31, 2009 01:14 PM
Victoria Murphy
Sotheby's International Realty - Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe, NM

You got it I have two St. Joseph's next to my desk, and I ask for his help on a regular basis. 

Apr 01, 2009 02:52 AM