Santa Fe, New Mexico: Loretto Chapel & The Miraculous Staircase

The centerpiece of this historic site is the spiral staircase located in the back of the chapel. Upon the completion of the chapel’s construction in 1878, it became apparent that there was no way to access the choir loft. As the story goes, several carpenters were called on to address the problem and they all had concluded that a ladder was the only option as building a staircase would interfere with the interior of the chapel. The sisters of the chapel would not accept this and made a novena to St. Joseph the patron saint of carpenters when, on the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the chapel and offered to take on the project. It was built and the man disappeared without any notice and without receiving any pay or thanks. The sisters launched a search to find him, but when he never turned up, it was decided that it must have been St. Joseph himself coming to the chapel’s rescue. The staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. The legend suggests that only wooden pegs were used to secure the structure.