Catholic Traveller is back on the road! We're visiting missions, shrines and more, hoping to motivate and encourage you to make pilgrimage part of your life. Come along as we roam the country in our travel trailer, by train and by plane. Buen camino!
Amid our walking tour of downtown Santa
Fe, we detoured to take in Loretto Chapel. The last
time we were here, I foolishly left my camera in the car. This time, I made
sure I had it.
Loretto Chapel is famous for its circular stairway which is believed
by many to have been constructed by St. Joseph,
himself. Regardless of the validity of the claim, there is no disputing that
the stairway is a marvel, not only for its time, but even now.
According to legend, the architect and builder of the chapel
both overlooked the access to the choir loft until the chapel was nearly
complete. None of the options to correct this were acceptable to the nuns who
had commissioned the chapel, so they began a novena to St.
Joseph, asking for a solution to this problem.
On the final day of the novena, a mysterious stranger
appeared out of the desert and built the beautiful staircase, then disappeared
without even collecting his pay.
The 1998 movie, "The Staircase", starring Barbara Hershey and William L. Peterson offers an entertaining version of this legend and is available through the chapel gift shop, as well as other retailers.
The Miraculous Staircase, now over 130 years old, has been
closed off for many years. The wear and tear of so many tourists ascending and descending its steps would surely
destroy it if it wasn’t.
Fanciful windmills grace the gardens of the chapel, while
the sandstone and volcanic rock of its construction allow the beautiful stained
glass windows to stand out. The interior of the chapel is simple and serene. Although the Blessed Sacrament is no longer housed here, it retains an atmosphere
of holiness. Voices are hushed and photographers are almost stealthy.
Sitting still in the quiet of the chapel, I relax and
breathe in the prayers of those holy women who, less than 50 years ago, still
knelt here, received the sacraments and instructed the daughters of Santa Fe in
the joy of the Catholic faith. I wonder what it would have been like to be
privileged to climb that staircase and sing in the choir. I believe, whoever he
was, the hand of God worked through the hands of the man who built the