The Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, is a former Roman Catholic church that is now used as a museum.
The church has become famous for its unusual helix-shaped spiral staircase, now known as the “Miraculous Stair”
The Sisters of Loretto credited St. Joseph with its construction. It has been the subject of legend, and the circumstances surrounding its construction and its builder were considered miraculous by the Sisters of Loretto.
The story of the “Miracle stair”
The Loretto chapel was built between 1873 and 1878.
Once completed the nuns noticed that there was no staircase to reach the choir loft 22 feet above.
Many carpenters were called in to determine a solution but they all said it would be impossible to build the needed staircase in such a small space. The nuns turned to prayer and called Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters with a rosary novena.
On the 10th day a mysterious man showed up on a donkey with a few woodworking tools and was looking for work.
Using a hammer, a saw, and a tee square and some tubs of water the man constructed the staircase all by himself.
It took the mysterious man 8 months to complete the beautiful and sturdy spiral staircase.
Then without notice or pay the man left in the night with his donkey and disappeared. He was never seen again.
The staircase was seen as a marvel by all the local carpenters.
It has two 360 degree turns and the complex structure has no central support. Architects say the staircase should have collapsed the first time someone stepped on it. Yet it has been used daily for over 100 years.
The staircase was built without nails, screws or glue, Only wood pegs.
The original staircase built by the mysterious man did not have rails. They were indeed a few years later.
After the man disappeared, rumors that the mysterious carpenter was actually Saint Joseph quickly spread throughout the town.
There are 3 remaining mysteries to the miraculous staircase
To this day the identity of the carpenter is unknown
Architects and engineers cannot explain how one man created the complex structure that seems to have no visible support.
Where did the wood come from? The type of wood used to build the staircase is not found anywhere in the entire region.
But perhaps the most intriguing detail of the miracle staircase is that the structure has 33 steps, the age of Our Lord Jesus when he died on the cross.
Although the Catholic Church is cautious about attaching supernatural reasons to explain uncommon events, the nuns know that the miracle staircase was the answer to their novena for Saint Joseph.
The mystery of the miracle staircase endures and today the chapel is attracting almost 500,000 visitors a year.