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The history of the Loretto Chapel began when Bishop Jean Baptisite Lamy was appointed by the Church to the New Mexico Territory in 1850. Bishop Lamy, seeking priests, brothers and nuns to preach and teach, wrote, “I have 6000 Catholics and 300 Americans.” The first acceptance of his general plea was from the Sisters of Loretto. Undoubtedly influenced by the French clergy in Santa Fe, the Gothic Revival-style chapel was patterned after King Louis IX's Sainte-Chapelle in Paris; a striking contrast to the adobe churches already in the area.

The Miraculous Staircase, which legend says was constructed or inspired by St. Joseph the Carpenter, was built sometime between 1877 and 1881. It took at least six months to build, and has two 360 degree turns with no visible means of support.


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