Gothic Meets Southwest
The Loretto Chapel looks distinctly out of place as Santa Fe's only miniature Gothic cathedral. A curious study in the allocation of resources, The Loretto Chapel is very tall, very ornate, was very expensive to build (except the staircase, that was free) and seats a sparse 129 people.
Everyone comes here to see the "Miraculous Staircase" which is, in fact, miraculous but the rest of the chapel is pretty neat too. The staircase proves to be difficult to photograph due to the crowd of looky-loos gathered around it at all times. So, while they do that, I cruise around and see the other stuff.
Construction of the Chapel began in 1873 and was completed in 1878. The construction was wrought with various setbacks including, but not limited to, the premature death of the architect and at some point near the end of the project it began to dawn on people that there was no way to reach the choir loft.
The nuns were not hip to the idea of a fire station pole or a rock climbing wall so they set about looking for a solution. After praying for ten straight days a scraggly fellow showed up leading a donkey and carrying nothing but a t-square, saw, and hammer. He said he had come to build the staircase. It took him six months to complete and what he created was both awesome and terrifying.
A spiral staircase rising 20 feet with no nails, no center column, and no handrail, that makes two complete 360 degree turns and resembles strand of DNA. Did I mention no handrail? Obviously, the the staircase was far too scary to climb with no handrail so the braver nuns scooted to and from the choir loft on their hands and knees while others "miraculously" developed laryngitis and opted for janitorial duty.
The handrail was added later.
For more information about the history of the Loretto Chapel, visit their website here.
All of these photos are shot with my Motorola Moto X4 and edited with Snapseed.
The stained glass windows in the Loretto Chapel are incredible! They were purchased in 1876 from the DuBois Studio in Paris. Upon completion, the glass was sent from Paris to New Orleans by ship and then transported to St. Louis, MO by paddle boat. From there, the windows completed their journey via covered wagon on the Old Santa Trail to the chapel. With bubble wrap yet to be invented, I can't help but wonder how much glass may have been damaged in transit and I think the chapel is lucky to have received any windows at all. And now, 142 years later, they are still amazing!
Try as I might to get the obvious wide-angle photo of the chapel interior featuring the staircase, the number of looky-loos on this day were making it impossible. Gathered around it like pigeons waiting for french fries at the door of McDonald's, they were clearly unconcerned about ruining my shot.
After several impatient moments, I noticed that no one was standing behind the stairs by the confessional booth. Well eureka, lucky break for me!
A Haunted Date
For our anniversary, Johnpaul and I went on a haunted date to the infamous Luna Mansion in Los Lunas, New Mexico. It was a Tuesday evening and there was snow on the ground so, needless to say, it was slow night at the Mansion... which is exactly what I was hoping for. To make things even better, the bartender had called in sick so the upstairs bar was not in service but the manager still allowed us to go exploring up there all by ourselves. This is not the kind of thing that I could've orchestrated so apparently the Mansion wanted to give us a look around.
For more information about the hauntings at the Luna Mansion, check out this article from the Valencia County New-Bullitin.
To check out my previous post about the Luna Mansion,click here.
Most of the ghost stories about the Luna Mansion take place in the upstairs bar & lounge area. I did not witness anything unusual, but while Johnpaul was checking out the rocking chair he said he heard a disembodied voice speaking Spanish that seemed to be coming from the top of the stairs.
All images shot with a Motorola MotoX4 and edited with Snapseed.
Los Lunas Decalogue Stone
Way back in 2003, I bought a book called Mysteries & Miracles of New Mexico: Guide Book To The Genuinely Bizarre In The Land Of Enchantment, by Jack Kutz. Chapter One is about New Mexico's Mystery Rock so naturally I followed his cryptic instructions and found it at the base of Hidden Mountain.
That was 16 years ago.
Last weekend, I grabbed the book and took Johnpaul out to the desert and we found it once again.
Still the topic of much archaeological debate, the Los Lunas Decalogue stone is written in a dead language and predates Columbus by well over 1000 years.
It is older than the petroglyphs and written in a language from the other side of the world. So, uh... hmmmmm.
The Ten Commandments?
One common theory about the Decalogue Stone is that it is a transcription of the Ten Commandments. I even had someone on Twitter, who lives in Jordan, claim to be able to decipher the writing and confirm that it is in fact the Ten Commandments. I'm not saying it is or isn't but there have been other translations that tell a very different story.
Specifically, the translation from ancient language expert, Dixie Perkins, who published another translation that reads as follows:
"I have come to this place to stay. The other one met with an untimely death in battle, dishonored, insulted and stripped of flesh. The men thought him to be an object of care whom I looked after, considered crazed, to be tossed about as if in a wind, to perish in poverty and need. By my kinsmen I was respected and honored, of blessed lot, with a body of slaves and so many olive trees, a peg to hang anything upon. Men punished me with exile to exact retribution for a debt; meanwhile, I remain here as a rabbit. I, Zakyneros, just as a prophet, out of reach of mortal man, I am fleeing and very afraid. I am dross, scum, refuse, just as aboard a ship a soft, effeminate sailor is flayed with an animal hide, all who speak offensively are lashed or beaten with a cane; but after a short time, the hurtful ones may be sated; at an unseasonable time, I remain to protect from the rainy southwest winds the hollow or the ravine. Very much harvest is gathered in, very much is the woody dell and glen; very many bags of young deer. Very many hides with delicate, luxuriant hair; by the channel of a river, swift flowing. Very much is given by the gods for again and again, at the unseasonable time I become gaunt from hunger."
There are some who dismiss the Decalogue Stone as nothing more than elaborate hoax perpetrated by archaeology students from The University Of New Mexico. However, due to eyewitness reports of the stone's existence in the 1800's, the hoax theory has been mostly dismissed.
I am not a historian or an expert on ancient languages so the writing on the stone could be directions to the closest Wal-Mart for all I know. What I am, however, is a person who asks "why?"
How and why was this traveler from the Mediterranean wandering around New Mexico 2000 years ago, when people from that part of the world were not known to have been here?
Why would this person spend untold hours carving the Ten Commandments into a rock on Hidden Mountain? I mean, not for nothin', but that's a lot of work. Why would they carve the Ten Commandments on a rock for no one to see?
In my mind, it makes a lot more sense that someone who was alone and frightened would write their story, a soliloquy of sorts, into the stone in hopes of someday being remembered. Like a message in a bottle or a page in a memoir, this message is meant to say, "I was here and this is my story."
How To Find The Mystery Stone
Sadly, vandalism is taking a toll on this (possibly) ancient artifact and on the site as a whole. Obviously, the stone has become too easy to find and has been visited by too many disrespectful individuals. For this reason, I will not reveal the exact location in this post. If you want to get there, you're gonna have to work for it and hopefully vandals will look elsewhere for an easier target.
Petroglyph National Park
I am DeAnna Vincent, fine art and portrait photographer in Los Lunas, New Mexico. These are the photos from my everyday adventures.