Saturday, August 6, 2011

Churches of Santa Fe

Diana and I are both Italian Catholics, so of course we wanted to visit the several historic churches in Santa Fe.

The first Cathedral was built in 1610 by the Franciscan Friars and Spanish colonists, but was destroyed in the Pueblo revolt in 1680. The current Cathedral was rebuilt in 1886.

Interestingly, the French archbishops had all of the traditional New Mexican Mission Style art removed from the Cathedral, but in 1997 the present Archbishop commissioned Santa Fe local folk artist Marie Romero Cash to redo the artwork lining the walls in the Santero style reminiscent of the historic churches.

Diana and I stayed at the beautiful Inn and Spa of Loretto, in the heart of Santa Fe. It's a first class hotel, and I had one of the best therapeutic massages of my life at their spa (which was rated #25 out of the top 50 spas in the country by Conde Nest). Another really neat thing about the Loretto Inn is that our room overlooked the chapel.

The Loretto Chapel is home to the "miracle staircase" which Diana and I payed $2 to see. At first, I couldn't understand what was so miraculous about it since the stairs looked like, well... stairs.

So we did a little research. Basically, the story goes that nuns built this chapel, but miscalculated the proportions and had no way to get from the ground floor to the 20 foot choir loft. The nuns prayed to St. Joseph (saint of carpenters), and a carpenter showed up in the middle of the night on a donkey, and built the staircase using only a square, tub of water, and a saw. The stairway makes two complete 360 degree turns, has no central support, and no nails. In short, mathematically it shouldn't stay up. Additionally, the wood is not indigenous to the area - no one has any idea where it came from.

After he finished, the carpenter left in the middle of the night, without asking for payment; miracle or not - that was one great guy.

The San Miguel Mission is the oldest active church in the United States, and it was our third and final stop on our "church tour." While it was the most architectually simple, there was something amazing about it - which made me linger a little longer than normal after we lit candles for our loved ones at the altar.

After all of this religious and historical reverence, we made our way through The Mission's gift shop, and broke out into huge grins when we came across this little gem:

Diana and I are English teachers after all, and we catch spelling errors for a living - so there is something wonderfully entertaining about finding these rare linguistic renegades out in public, especially when you least expect it.

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