We arrived at the chapel around 10am . It’s now a museum that cost a few dollars to enter and is available for weddings.
The Loretto (Our Lady of Light) Chapel was a Catholic chapel from it’s creation in 1878 until it was sold to private buyers in 1971.
It’s Gothic style was designed after King Louis IX’s Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, France. The architecture is very different and contrasting from much of Santa Fe’s adobe buildings and culture surrounding it, but is similar to the Saint Francis Cathedral a few blocks away.
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This chapel’s exterior and interior is awesome. One thing i admired inside the chapel is the outstanding Gothic altar. They also have sculpted “Stations of the Cross” that were very detailed. Loretto Chapel also had many spectacularly detailed stained glass windows. And of course, the best attraction here and one of the most famous stairs in the world, the “miraculous staircase” is the subject of controversy and myth over both its design and creator. It has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support.
The story of the Loretto Chapel:
In 1873 a group of nuns from the Sisters of Loretto decided to build a chapel in Santa Fe. The local Bishop wanted it to be patterned after the famous Saint-Chapelle in Paris. During construction the builders realized that although they had a choir loft there was no stairway leading to it. Several builders were consulted about building the stairway but they all said that the stairs would take up too much room in the chapel. They all recommended that a ladder be used in place of a staircase.
The sisters then started a Novena to Saint Joseph and from that act of faith came a true miracle. On the 9th day of the Novena an elderly carpenter showed up at the building and offered his services at no charge. He worked using only a hammer, saw and T-square.
The stairway he built is an engineering marvel. It is a circular stairway consisting of 33 steps and makes two complete 360-degree turns up to the choir loft. It has no central means of support and is built with only wooden pegs–no nails or glue. Architecturally, it should not have lasted a day, but was in continuous use up to this day.
More about the stairway and the mysterious carpenter: the man was never seen again and when the sisters checked at the local lumber yard they were surprised to learn that he had not made any purchases there.
Moreover, the wood is not native to New Mexico at all. Soon word spread that is was Saint Joseph himself that built the stairway and wood was from the Holy Land.
The Sisters eventually sold the chapel and it is now open to the public.
The chapel is often used as a site for weddings (although Catholic weddings cannot be held here, since it was de-consecrated when the Sisters sold it).
More info: http://www.lorettochapel.com