elizabeth

22 Sep 2015 140 views
 
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photoblog image Miraculous Staircase

Miraculous Staircase

 

Two mysteries surround the spiral staircase in the Loretto Chapel:

the identity of its builder and the physics of its construction.

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 railing was added later for safety - as the choir does indeed use this stairway)

 

 

 

 

Miraculous Staircase

 

Two mysteries surround the spiral staircase in the Loretto Chapel:

the identity of its builder and the physics of its construction.

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 railing was added later for safety - as the choir does indeed use this stairway)

 

 

 

 

comments (9)

Well, Elizabeth...had anyone (other than me) thought that perhaps it is artistic expression on the part of the donkey?

It is certainly an attractive piece of furniture.
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: You know... I certainly never thought of that. And I don't doubt that donkeys would be capable...

It really is pretty - the wood is very fine
What a wonderful piece of art Elizabeth!
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: It truly is, Richard!
  • Chris
  • England
  • 22 Sep 2015, 07:40
I think it must have been the work of St Joseph himself!
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: You may very well be right, Mr. Phillips!
A wonderful example of the carpenter's skill
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Amazing isn't it!
What an amazing story! I like that he added pegs to hang the choir gowns on.
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: The whole thing is really incredible!
I can quite understand why it is called the Miraculous Staircase, being a church person it does make one think.
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: smile It does indeed! smile
i (and many others on SC) would have loved to take a look at this in person, Elizabeth. so thank you for doing the next best thing!
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: I'm so glad you are enjoying this lovely place! I'm sure you'd love going there yourself!
A fantastic construction!
Elizabeth Croston Buckalew: Amazing, isn't it?!
  • Robbyne
  • United States
  • 27 Sep 2015, 01:03
Ah Santa Fe..one of my favorite places and you captured the staircase well!

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for this photo I'm in a any and all comments icon ShMood©
camera Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XSi
exposure mode shutter priority
shutterspeed 1/10s
aperture f/4.5
sensitivity ISO800
focal length 29.0mm
Common GrackleCommon Grackle
HistoryHistory
Loretto ChapelLoretto Chapel

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