Weekly Photo Challenge – Against The Odds


Santa Fe, New Mexico.

This week, Michelle W. asks us to share an image that reflects “against the odds”. From the challenge post, “Maybe it’s a photo of an unlikely occurrence. Maybe it’s the photo itself that goes against the odds.” You can read the entire challenge post here. Remembering a trip to Santa Fe last spring, I thought of the magnificent spiral staircase in a chapel we visited there and the miracle that surrounds its construction.

The Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, was completed in 1878. Unfortunately, one minor detail was missing. There was no way to get to the choir loft, some 22-feet (6.7 m) from the chapel floor. Unfortunately, any stairway the designers could think of would take too much floor space from use by worshipers. Thus begins the tale of the miracle of the staircase.

Calling upon the patron saint of carpenters, St. Joseph, the Sisters of the Chapel prayed for a solution. On their ninth day of prayer, a man with a toolbox and a donkey appeared, looking for work. The sisters hired him and months later, the carpenter vanished after having completed the circular staircase. He left without so much as a thank you for his compensation. Some believe it was St. Joseph, himself, who came and built this magnificent staircase.

Built without nails and using only wooden pegs to support the underpinnings, the circular staircase has no visible vertical supports. The staircase spirals upward with two 360-degree turns from the church floor to to base of the loft.

Today, the chapel is a private museum that offers tours of the chapel and grounds and provides a venue for weddings and other appropriate gatherings. The information about the staircase was found on the chapel’s website here.

John Steiner


6 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge – Against The Odds

  1. What a beautiful story! But who cares whether or not it was actually St. Joseph who visited? If it wasn’t him, he was sent by him!

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