Wednesday is the day of St Joseph, and for this year of 2022, occasionally I'd like to remember spectacular miracles of the Foster-Father of Jesus on this day. Today, I'm giving my attention to the miraculous staircase in New Mexico that is a grand example of what may happen after only one novena to St Joseph is offered. 

T'was the year 1873, the Sisters of Loretto in Sant Fe, New Mexico were running a girls' school, which was drawing many pupils, so much so that the sisters needed to accommodate the growing numbers by building a new chapel. They sought the services of a famous French architect, Antoine Mouly, who designed and oversaw the construction for five years. Alas, Mouly died before the stairs connecting the chapel to the upper choir loft could be envisioned. The sisters in their floor-length pleated skirts could only access the loft by climbing on a long ladder that was treacherous. They also realized that there was no room for a staircase because of the many pews that were needed for the congregation. 

The sisters began a 9-day novena to St Joseph, praying for the intention that he, the man who had brought Jesus into the carpentry trade, could send them a carpenter. On the 9th day of the prayer, a man who seemed most inscrutable came to the door. He said he wanted to build them their staircase on one request. He wanted to work in secret with no one watching him. The sisters saw the hand of Divine Providence in this man, and they agreed to his offer. 

For 3 months the man toiled. The day that an exquisite helix-shaped stairwell was complete, the man was nowhere to be found. It was like he disappeared into thin air. Throughout these 90 days, no one had learned his name. His language was silence. Then the sisters even put an advert in the local paper to find him. No one knew anything. 

Next, the sisters tried to trace the wood that they assumed had been purchased nearby or at least was grown in America. When they went to the lumberyard, the men who worked there had no record of selling any timber to a man who wanted to build a staircase for a chapel. The sisters were astonished and they talked about how odd it was that the carpenter had only used the most ordinary tools, and yet he'd built a mesmerizing masterwork, it curved in such a way as it didn't crowd the pews that they had guarded, and it had 30 steps with no load-bearing column and had this weightless quality whereby it seemed to hover in the air.  And not one nail or any type of metal attachment had been used in the stairs construction, rather it was joined by square wooden pegs. The wood used was not native to the US. Later it was determined to be a variety of spruce that is most like a tree only found in Israel. 

The sisters came to believe that it was St Joseph himself who built their splendid stairs.  The miraculous staircase was the answer to one novena to St Joseph. 

Entertain the idea, if you will, with me, because I'm developing my faith here, too, that were we to offer novenas to St Joseph, the results could be simply astounding. All of us, especially in these craziest of crazy times have widely differing prayer requests, some of utmost urgency, and St Joseph is perhaps more needed than ever. It's helping me to keep the staircase in mind, even though I'm not praying for anything like this, and to know that answered prayers can be as wondrous. 

2021 was dedicated as the Year of St Joseph, but instead of relegating our devotion to St Joseph as something that had its halcyon days in that year, we may think of it as having been a warm-up for our full-time and vigorous devotion to Joseph who Christ obeyed as a Child. 

Novena to St Joseph that has never been known to fail. 

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls - Pray for me. Amen.

This post was informed by Father Calloway's Consecration to St Joseph, which you may buy at the Spirit Daily bookstore

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Classic painting, Holy Family with Bird  executed by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.


  1. Thank you for recounting this wonderful story of St. Joseph and the Sisters of Loretto in Santa Fe. It was originally built without hand rails (banister) if you can imagine that! Sadly, though, the chapel no longer belongs to the Church and has been deconsecrated, thus the charge to visit it.

    One of the best titles of St. Joseph is "Icon of the Father." Most amazing saint, indeed.

  2. The Staircase is quite perfect and a sense of holiness still pervades, despite the chapel having fallen out of the hands of the church-however did we\they ever let that happen? Thank you for the Novena. Albuquerque, NM.

  3. It is indeed very sad. The once very reverend chapel owned by the church, is now a tourist site.
    A same sex marriage took place there a few years ago.

  4. It’s a nice story, but, I believe folklore.
    I remember reading an article about the staircase and the man attributed to completing it. He was a loner living outside Santa Fe. The article was published sometime ago and I believe it was in the “Santa Fe” magazine. I wanted to believe it myself.


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