It just didn’t seem right to leave Santa Fe without sharing more about their historical and miraculous chapels.
Where is the oldest church in the continental U.S? Would you believe Santa Fe?
Traditional belief holds that it was built around 1611 by a group of Tlexcalan Indians from Mexico who were travelling with the original Spanish settlement party, over 400 years ago. The first documentation of its existence is only 392 years. With lack of strong documentation is it difficult to say which is older, San Miguel Chapel or the church at Jamestown, which was working as a church in 1607, but not in the current structure which was built in 1639.
Caught in the crosshairs of settlement wars, the church was badly burned in the late 1600s. Some of the original walls remained, but the church was mostly rebuilt by the Spanish in 1710.
We found it most interesting that such a church would have been constructed, preserved and still remain working so far west.
For more information about the history of San Miguel check the beautiful video at http://sanmiguelchapel.org/page-sections/history/
The chapel is open 10:00AM – 4:00PM daily, and English mass is 5:00PM Sundays.
Loretta Chapel provides a beautiful example of the mysteries of faith, an intriguing story, and perhaps a miraculous work of architecture. In early 1870s the Sisters of Loretta were granted a chapel by the Archbishop of Santa Fe. The chapel was completed around 1878. However, the staircase to the choir loft was not yet finished, when the project ended abruptly.
One night, the architect, Projectus Mouly, was frequenting the local brothel when he was shot and killed. The stairway stayed unfinished for 9 years. With no way to enter the choir loft, the Sisters began a prayer vigil for completion of the stairway. On the 9th day, an unknown man appeared at the chapel and offered to build the staircase. He had only a saw, hammer and a carpenter’s square. He used pegs rather than nails. His spiral staircase rose 20 feet to the choir loft and made two complete turns without a center post. The carpenter left without being paid. No one knew his name or where he came from. It is believed by the Sisters that he was Saint Joseph himself.
Three mysteries surround the spiral staircase in the Loretto Chapel: the identity of its builder, the type of wood used, and the physics of its construction.
The Loretta Chapel is open daily except Christmas.