In Santa Fe in New Mexico one finds the Loretto Chapel. Built in the 19th century by the nuns who needed a place to teach and pray, the nuns were distraught on completion when they discovered there was no staircase to take them to the next level. The architects and builders had forgotten to build a staircase, unbelievable as it may seem. Not only that, but there was simply no space left in the church to accommodate the staircase. The nuns, seeing this as a challenge, prayed a nine day novena to St. Joseph the Carpenter. On the last day of the novena an old grey-haired man appeared on a donkey with only a toolbox with him, knocked on the door and offered his services. The old man constructed a beautiful staircase with not only one but two 360 degree turns in a very small space all by himself. He used no nails, no glue, only wooden pegs and when it was finished, he disappeared without getting paid, no-one knowing his name.
The staircase, which has become known as a pride to carpentry had 33 steps, no central support and stood completely balanced despite the absence of the centre support, defying the Law of Gravity. Architects, engineers and scientists have examined the staircase for various reasons over more than a century and still cannot find any explanation for the fact that it is still standing some 130 years later, still in constant use. They are further baffled by the fact that the wood used in the building of the staircase is not to be found anywhere in the entire region and never has been. Several lumber specialists have examined the wood and cannot even agree on the type.
The staircase has come to be known as the Miraculous Staircase and has become a place of pilgrimage. It is said that St. Joseph himself was sent by Jesus in an answer to the prayers of the nuns. Some call it a miracle, others remain skeptical but have no answers to support their theories. The world, scientific and religious alike, remain baffled. The staircase cannot be classified as a legend either for it is there, living proof and thousands go there to see for themselves.
Whether we believe in miracles and saints is not the issue here. Inexplicable things happen, things we have no answers for, things we cannot explain and might not ever will. The Miraculous Staircase is typical of those phenomena we can only ‘sort of’ question, simply because the problem is that we do not know what to question. Do we question the integrity of the nuns and call them liars while the Staircase is living proof? Do we question a miracle while it is not really a miracle, again because it simply is there no matter the unanswered questions? We cannot question the legend because there is too much fact to be called a legend. The fact is that the Staircase is extraordinary and we have to take and accept it at face value, appreciate it and think about it.
In my mind the Staircase is the perfect example of the faith that go with sincere prayer. There is no-one who has ever read the Book of Life who can deny God’s invitation, that we only have to ask to receive. This is what the nuns did, nothing more. They did not ask for signs and ideas and gave no vague descriptions, they were specific and they got exactly what they wanted, to the tee. They asked in honest and sincere Faith and He heard. They Trusted Him to deliver and He rose to the challenge, exactly as He promised. They asked Him to move a mountain and He did – He built them a Staircase in an impossible area. They never asked for proof that He would deliver, so he gave them more than enough proof of His answers – He sent thousands of pilgrims, thousands of feet to climb the Staircase and more than a century later the Staircase is still there.
I believe that most of us have at least one extraordinary Staircase in our lives, proof of that one time we asked sincerely, honestly, with true faith and true belief. We need to dust that Staircase and place it where we can remind ourselves often that prayer accompanied by real faith is the strongest and most amazing miracle worker of all times. If we have no such Miraculous Staircase … then it is time to build one.
May Sincerity and Faith bring us True Peace, today and always. Annalie