I read about this staircase many years ago in a magazine that my Grandmother Gladys gifted to our family. A friend told me about the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe just one day before I visited and told me that I must go see it. I was surprised to discover that it was just a short walk from the Plaza I was planning to visit. When I saw the staircase leading to the choir loft, I realized it was the very same one I had read about when I was young. The staircase is an amazing architectural construction in the lovely, small chapel.
The story of the staircase is the story of answered prayers. The nuns needed a staircase to get to the choir loft because they were afraid to climb the ladder that was available. They decided to pray for a carpenter who could build the staircase. They prayed daily for a month – and at the end of the month a man named Joseph arrived on a donkey with his carpenter tools. He built the staircase and then just disappeared. No one could explain who this Joseph was, but the skill of the carpenter is manifest in the beauty of the workmanship.
People’s prayers generate a sacredness that remains even after they have passed. I felt this sacred energy present in this small chapel. As I sat relaxing into the feeling of peace, I enjoyed watching the other tourists entering the chapel. They’d enter with the attitude of the outside world reflected in their faces but within moments they’d settle into the awe of the sacred. Their entire demeanor would slow down, settle in, and quiet. Their faces would begin to reflect quiet peaceful awe. We were able to feel this wonderful peacefulness because of Joseph, the carpenter, more than 100 years after he came anonymously to this small chapel to answer the prayers of the nuns.