Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller
Date: August 1987
We stopped at this beautiful Catholic Church that had a miraculous staircase that has three mysteries: who built it, what is the material it is made of and where did the material come from? Lastly, how does the staircase stay together as it defies all conventional construction practice and no nails, glue or screws were used (only wood pegs)?
In 1873 the Sisters of Loretto commissioned the construction of a new chapel for the Girls School. The chapel has high spires and beautiful stained-glass windows. As the construction neared completion the project’s architect suddenly died before he could build the most ambitious part of the project – the staircase leading up to the choir loft. The Sisters asked the local carpenters to build the staircase, but they didn’t know how. The Sisters didn’t know what to do so they turned to prayer and did a nine-day novena asking Saint Joseph, the patron Saint of carpenters, to help them with this problem. On the ninth day a knock came to the door. An elderly man with a donkey stood there. He said he came to build the staircase. The man insisted on working by himself in the chapel and no one could watch him build the staircase. After three months the sister came into the chapel and the carpenter was gone so they couldn’t pay him. The Sisters went to the only local lumberyard to pay for the lumber that the carpenter used, and they said the man did not get any materials at all from them.
Findings: A core sample of the wood used to make the stairway was analyzed and it proved to be a form of piece spruce which is not found in Arizona, nor does it match up 100% with any other type on earth. The winding staircase, double helix shape (two 360 degree turns), has 33 steps which was how old Jesus was when he died. So, who was the mysterious carpenter and was the creation of this staircase a miracle? The staircase was roped off so we could not walk up it, but I have Super 8 film of the staircase & church.