Most of these photos were taken by Lex. He's a pro with the camera now.
We visited the Loretto Chapel while we were in downtown Santa Fe. It was built as part of a Catholic girls' school in the late 1800s. It took 10 years to build, and it was completed in 1878.
I think it goes without saying that it's absolutely beautiful, inside and out.
It no longer functions as a church or a school. Today it is a wedding chapel and museum. It's famous for the miraculous staircase to Heaven inside.
Some people call it St. Joseph's staircase.
The chapel was originally built without a staircase up to the choir loft. Apparently in the 1870s the choir was entirely male, and they would just use a ladder to climb up and down from any choir loft. But, since this was a girls' school, the choir was made up of females, and apparently nuns weren't allowed to use a ladder. Gender rules are weird.
Because the chapel is so small, there wasn't room for a traditional staircase, and no one could help them build one.
So the nuns prayed to St. Joseph for an answer. And an answer came in the form of a carpenter who showed up and built this beautiful wooden spiral helix staircase completely out of wood. What type of wood? No one knows. Apparently it's an extinct species of tree.
Also, there are no nails or glue. And the staircase didn't use to have any supports or handrails. Those were added much later. It basically just balanced on the bottom step.
As the story goes, after the construction was complete, the carpenter just disappeared again, without telling them his name or being paid for his work. The nuns ran advertisements in the all local papers to find the carpenter, but no one ever turned up. So, they concluded that it must have been St. Joseph himself.
If you are ever in Santa Fe, I highly recommend that you stop by to visit. It's so beautiful.