On our honeymoon, I insisted that we see the miraculous staircase in the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe. Roger was against this kind of nonsense because the chapel is now privately owned, and there was an entrance fee. The cheesy sign at the door said “Miraculous Staircase TM as seen on Unsolved Mysteries.” I insisted because I had heard that this chapel is a destination wedding location. (Indeed, if you are getting married, you may want to look into these affordable packages.) The new bride won, and we took a quick tour.
Three years later, I had thought that the legacy of our brief encounter with the beautiful spiral staircase was a few photos in our honeymoon album; however, this summer, I found a Norman Rockwell Christmas book at a flea market, and it contained a short story, “The Miraculous Staircase” by Arthur Gordon (originally published in Woman’s Day Magazine in 1982). Gordon told the same mystery story of the staircase in a Christmas light. In his story, the nuns had to leave the nearly-finished chapel to serve a measles-ridden village two-days away. During the time they were gone, a humble carpenter named Joseph arrived on a donkey and built the staircase. The nuns returned on Christmas Eve, and, at the stroke of midnight, the staircase was revealed. In the short story and in the legend published online, the carpenter disappeared. There is no record of payment.
Here’s a link to the official Loretto Chapel website, which references the story. I have included a short clip from a video that explains the staircase.
I can’t wait to read more of the Norman Rockwell Christmas book. I have a feeling there will be more Christmas surprises.