Friday, March 25, 2011

Loretto Chapel Staircase

This is a photo of the miracle staircase at the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe. Why miraculous? Well, it was built by one man with a hammer, saw, carpenters square, and wood. No nails. No glue. No screws. No center support. It has two 360° turns. Originally it had no banisters (see old photo below). It's held together by square wooden pegs. It should have toppled, yet it's never toppled after generations of use, and modern-day engineers can't explain it.

There's a good story behind it, too. Originally, the good sisters of Loretto needed to have a staircase built up to the choir loft (ladders just weren't practical, not to mention terrifying to ascend in long robes). So they decided to do a nine-day novena to St. Joseph, patron saint of carpenters and builders. After the last day of prayers, the very next day, there appeared an old, gray-haired, gray-bearded man leading a donkey. He offered his services as a carpenter. About half a year later, he'd completed the staircase, was paid, and went on his way.

People speculate the mysterious old man was really St. Joseph himself.

Check out the photo of the original staircase, minus the banisters and railings. It seemed to float in air. You sure as heck will wonder how on earth it stands solidly, much less bear the weight of people ascending. Yet it did.


The Subversive Librarian said...

Oh, wow. I had never seen it without the banister.

You're making me jealous. I hope you eat lots and lots of good, New Mexico green and red chile while you're there.

Joyce said...

Definitely. My friend Cindy taught me yesterday to order my sauce "Christmas." Good thing I like hot!