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Saint Joseph the Worker - Feast May 1

Miraculous Staircase Header

 

The early history of the American Southwest is marked by sublime and truly heroic adventures of ardent souls seeking to expand the Kingdom of Christ. The intensity of their faith and efforts is made manifest in the convents, chapels, and schools they founded—and sometimes in miracles God worked on their behalf. One such miracle, a permanent one, took place in what is now the state of New Mexico. 

 

Miraculous Stairs built by St Joseph

 The Sisters of Loretto and their chapel
After three grueling months of travel by river and rail from Kentucky, four religious of the congregation of the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of Cross reached Santa Fe in 1853. There, at the request of the bishop of Sante Fe, John Baptiste Lamy, they opened a school for girls. This seed, sprouting and flourishing, exerted a great influence on the life and history of the city.

By 1873, to better accommodate their community, the sisters undertook construction of a new chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of Light. With its lancet arches and stained glass windows, it was to be reminiscent of the luminous Gothic splendor that arose in medieval Europe under the inspiration of the same Catholic Faith that the nuns were fostering in New Mexico.

But as construction neared completion, the sisters faced a problem.

Relative to its length of 75 ft. and breath of the 25ft., the chapel was high at 85 ft, so a staircase to the choir-loft could not be built according to the customary patterns. One of the architects directing the project had died, and the original plans could not be found. Various carpenters and other building specialists consulted for a solution did not know what to propose.

There was even talk of pulling down the choir loft. But nuns are known for their dauntless faith and trusting recourse to heaven when natural means fail. They decided to make a novena to Saint Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth.


St Joseph StatueA carpenter knocks
No sooner was the novena completed than a man knocked at the convent door. He had heard of their predicament, he explained, and, being a carpenter, came to offer his help.

The sisters immediately accepted his offer.

With the few primitive tools, a saw, a hammer and a T-square, which he brought with him on his donkey, he set to work. Some sisters also remembered some tubs of water to soak the wood to make it pliable.

Laboring quietly and diligently, the unknown carpenter soon completed a beautiful spiral staircase. Made entirely of wood held together with wooden pegs, having neither nails nor screws, it ascends to the choir loft in two complete 360-degree turns with no central axis for support.

When he had finished the essential part of the staircase—everything except a handrail—the carpenter departed before the sisters could pay him, and never returned. The Mother Superior tried to locate him in the area, but looked and inquired in vain. No one knew him at all. She visited the local lumber yard to pay for the wood but they knew nothing of such an order. The grateful sisters, though disappointed that the carpenter had slipped away, were not surprised; had they not prayed to Saint Joseph?


Puzzled Experts
But architects, carpenters, and the like were certainly mystified. They came in increasing numbers to examine the technique that allowed such a tall staircase, with two complete turns, to stand with no central axis! They marveled further on hearing that the stairs were being regularly used by the sisters and pupils. According to the professionals, the spiral should have collapsed the minute the first person tried to climb it! And so the stairway continued to be used for a century.

The experts also admired the geometric perfection of its design, obtained solely with manual skill and rudimentary tools. They were no less perplexed at the wood used, unknown to them and the area.

One aspect of the staircase may have added to the musings of the specialists or may have been overlooked, but the sisters noticed and understood it completely. The staircase has 33 steps, significantly corresponding to the “perfect age” at which Our Lord expired on the cross for our redemption.


Silent Witness to this Day
In 1968, due in part to the crisis occasioned by progressivism, then already taking a serious toll on the Church’s religious communities, the Sisters of Loretto reduced their activities in Santa Fe. The School of Our Lady of Light closed its doors. Its building, sold three years later, was remodeled and opened as a hotel.

The chapel remains intact, but now a museum. Visitors, who must purchase tickets to enter the chapel, can listen to a recorded history as they contemplate its interior. While curiosity and analysis lead many to admiration and piety, skeptics are left in silent perplexity.

In 1984 Professor Mary J. Straw published a comprehensive study on the chapel entitled, Loretto, the Sisters, and their Santa Fe Chapel. And tourist guides still point to the chapel as the site of a miraculous staircase.

Whatever the present status of the chapel, the staircase stands in silent and admirable witness to the faith and efforts of those pioneering sisters who dedicated their lives to raising hearts and minds to God.

 


  

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for December 1, 2020

The world is so corrupt that it seems almost inevitable that...

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December 1

 

The world is so corrupt that it seems almost inevitable 
that religious hearts be soiled, if not by its mud, at least by its dust. 
It is something of a miracle for anyone to stand firm 
in the midst of this raging torrent and not be swept away... 
It is Mary, the singularly faithful Virgin over whom Satan had never
any power,
who works this miracle for those who truly love her. 


St. Louis de Montfort


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Edmund Campion and Companions

He arrived in England disguised as a jewel merchant and went...

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St. Edmund Campion and Companions

Edmund Campion’s father was a bookseller in London. The future martyr was born around 1540, and at the age of fifteen was given a scholarship to St. John’s College, Oxford, where he was known for his intelligence and his sweet, yet fiery, disposition. Gifted with oratory, he was chosen to lead a public debate before Queen Elizabeth, and readily won her goodwill and patronage as well as that of the powerful William Cecil and the Earl of Leicester.

He had taken the oath of royal supremacy and was persuaded to receive the diaconate from the Anglican Church. But he had harbored doubts about the same Church, and his conscience disturbed, he left the country for Ireland in 1569 where he wrote a history of that country.

By 1571, he was a suspected person in England.  Reconciled to the Catholic Church in France, he was received into the Society of Jesus in Rome in 1573. As there was not as yet an English Province, he was assigned to the Austrian Province and entered the novitiate in Brunn, Moravia. For six years the young Englishman taught Rhetoric and Philosophy at the Jesuit College in Prague. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1578.

In 1580 he was chosen to accompany Fr. Robert Persons on a mission to England. As superior, Fr. Persons was to counterbalance Campion’s fervor and impetuosity. Surprised to be selected for this endeavor, Edmund expressed the fear that he lacked constitutional courage.

Campion arrived in England disguised as a jewel merchant and went right to work. In Lancashire he preached almost daily with conspicuous success. Pursued by spies and several times almost apprehended, he managed not only to make many converts, but also to write his “Ten Reasons” in which he challenged Protestants to openly debate religion with him. This treatise was printed in secret and widely distributed, causing quite a commotion.

Campion was betrayed while saying Mass at a house in Norfolk and was captured with two other priests in a hideout above the gateway. During his imprisonment in the Tower of London, Edmund was labeled, “Campion, the seditious Jesuit,” a title which did not deter the Queen herself from attempting to dissuade him from his convictions.

Twice, before his trial, he was racked. Notwithstanding his torments, Campion led his own defense as well as that of his companions. His fortitude and courage so touched the heart of Phillip Howard, the Earl of Arundel – another of the Queen’s favorites – that this nobleman made a full conversion and later received the crown of martyrdom. Prior to his sentence of death being read, Campion boldly addressed the court with this final challenge:

“In condemning us, you condemn all your own ancestors, all our ancient bishops and kings; all that was once the glory of England — the island of saints, and the most devoted child of the See of Peter.”

On December 1, a wet, muddy day, Frs. Campion, Ralph Sherwin and Alexander Briant were taken to the scaffold at Tyburn and there were executed with the usual barbarities. As he was being hung, drawn and quartered, some of Campion’s blood splattered on one of those present at his execution. The onlooker's name was Henry Walpole. He too became a Jesuit and was canonized with Campion as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales in 1970.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

Whoever recites this prayer fifteen times a day from the fea...

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A Christmas Prayer

(It is piously believed that whoever recites the below prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (Patron of Scotland; 30th Nov.) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)

America Needs Fatima also believes it's pleasing and efficacious any time of the year.

Click the image to download it.

 

Whoever recites this prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (30th Nov.) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.

 

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