Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe
When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to reach the choir loft (22 feet above in the back of the chapel). Carpenters all concluded that access would have to be by ladder since the interior space was so small.
Legend has it that the nuns of the chapel made a novena to St Joseph, patron saint of carpenters. On the 9th and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the chapel on a donkey and asked for work. Months later, he completed the staircase and left without payment. After searching for the man with no success, the nuns concluded that he had, in fact, been St Joseph himself, coming to answer their prayers.
If this isn’t enough of a mystery, modern engineers are perplexed by the design. The staircase has 33 steps, makes two 360 degree turns and has no visible means of support (no central column, not attached to the wall, etc). Additionally, the type of wood used to construct the stairway cannot be identified.
The mystery surrounding the staircase has been the subject of articles, television shows (Unsolved Mysteries) and movies (The Staircase).
Regardless of the mystery, it’s a beauty.
Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
A beautiful Roman Catholic cathederal dating back to the mid-1800’s, A statue out front celebrates Saint Kateri (Kateri Tekakwitha, 1656-1680), the first North American Indian to be beatified and canonized in 2012.