|The Loretto Chapel, itself|
In the Summer of 2012, I was on the highways of America, from the Carolina
coastline to Boston to California and several points in between. Twenty-four
states in all. The road travel took me to the mysteriously constructed staircase
of Santa Fe which actually does have a logical explanation. The explanation
is that the carpenter has not seen again, because he was stabbed to death in
his living quarters..
For those not yet familiar with the account, an order of Franciscan nuns needed
to have a staircase built in their chapel, leading to the choir loft. After the sisters
finished a novena to Saint Joseph, their chapel was visited by a stranger who ap-
parently was an expert carpenter. He constructed the needed staircase. It took
months for the job to be completed, due to the wait involved in construction ma-
terial. In this case, as was often usual in centuries past, no nails were used in the
construction of the staircase.
After the staircase was constructed, the sisters attempted to locate the gentleman
carpenter. They even attempted to catch his attention by means of a newspaper
ad. The carpenter never came forth.
The handrail was not a part of the original construction. The wood used for the
stairs and stringers was a species of spruce. There is a brace which connects the
outer stringer to the nearest pillar. An interior stringer is said to be as effective as
a pole. None the less, walking on the staircase was said to result in a springing
sensation. Needless to say, tourists are not permitted to walk on the staircase.
The carpenter of the staircase was theorized to have been a French immigrant
named Francois-Jean Rochas. Rochas was shot by intruders and left to die in
his cottage. He was found dead there in 1895. The staircase was completed in
either 1879, 1880, or 1881. In addition, the handrail wasn't added until 1887.
It was added by a Philip August Hesch. To state it politely, Saint Joseph was
not the carpenter, as folklore stated. After all, Joseph would have added a
staircase and he would have used local materials.
There are enough supernatural occurrences in the history of the Catholic Church
to affirm its supernatural roots. This would include Eucharistic miracles, miracles
that came after petitioning saints; intercession, the Miracle of the Sun, prophecies
would came true, incorrupt saints such as Louis of Monrfort, successful exorcisms,
the gift of Reading of Minds such as the gift Saint Catherine of Siena had, Myrna's
oil in Syria, the Tilma of Guadalupe, the events surrounding St Anthony of Padua,
and other things. It is important not to thrust folklore into the Church's rich heritage
of the supernatural.
Without further ado, here's more of the staircase: