by Stan Paregien, Sr.
It happened back in December of 1878
Out in Santa Fe, even then old and slow.
To this day, no one can begin to explain
What happened that Christmas long ago.
The Catholic sisters of the little convent
Had hired an architect in France to plan
A unique chapel for them that for Santa Fe
Would be inspirational and grand.
However, the French architect badly erred
When no staircase did he design,
Leaving the members of the choir no way
To get up to their loft so fine.
Master carpenters came from near and far,
This architectural problem to grace;
But not one could figure how to build
A staircase in the small available space.
One day a bearded stranger named Jose
Appeared and quietly began the task.
He worked in an abandoned stable,
And his skill he could not mask.
The Sisters of Loretto were skeptical
That the impossible could be achieved.
They left the smiling, dark-eyed man alone.
Had he left, they would have been relieved.
He did not leave, but worked hard
All day long and then by candle light.
Exactly when he finished no one knew,
For he installed it and left by dark of night.
The next morning the Sisters stood before
The staircase, amazed at its beauty.
The carpenter had built a masterpiece,
Far greater than was his duty.
The spiraling staircase made two turns
And had absolutely no support at all.
No nails were used, just wooden pegs,
So they were afraid it might fall.
The wood, experts said, was different,
Not found anywhere in the state.
And no one ever saw the builder again,
So nothing is known of his fate.
That night the Sisters remembered that
Jose means Joseph in the Spanish tongue,
And that this mysterious visitor had been
A master carpenter, quiet and unsung.
The steps of the staircase, they found,
Numbered exactly thirty-three.
That's the very number of years that
Jesus, the carpenter's son, lived, you see.
Over a hundred years have passed
Since that special Christmas day.
And even now you can see for yourself
Jose's miracle staircase there in Santa Fe.