We were invited to our niece’s wedding in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Sat. 10-20-2012. This would be a great opportunity for us to take a short vacation in a place that we had never been visited. Cayli Tam Nguyen, our niece and her fiancé both were living in Dallas, Texas but they met here in Santa Fe and he proposed the marriage to her also here, and so in this city the wedding would take place.

Our family, six of us, flew from Chicago’s Midway Airport to Albuquerque on Thursday. From there, we rented a minivan and drove one hour to Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico where we stayed the next three nights at The Sage Inn.

The next day, after breakfast we when to Santa Fe downtown for sight-seeing. We visited The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis de Assisi, the Loretto Chapel there housed the famous mysterious stair case. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to visit Geogia O’Keefe Museum as planned.

St Francis Cathedral

The first place that we visited was The Cathedral of Saint Francis. It was situated in the center of downtown Santa Fe. We took few pictures of the cathedral’s façade and also of the Archbishop J.B. Lamay statue that stands on the left side of the building. We also took picture of the first American Indian saint named Kateri Tekakwitha. We were very fortunate to have our pictures taken standing next to her statue because, on Sunday October 21-2012, two days after we visited the place, she was canonized to sainthood by Pope Benedict XVI in Vatican.

“The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, commonly known as Saint Francis Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

The cathedral was built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy between 1869 and 1886 on the site of an older adobe church, La Parroquia (built in 1714–1717). An older church on the same site, built in 1626, was destroyed in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. The new cathedral was built around La Parroquia, which was dismantled once the new construction was complete. A small chapel on the north side of the cathedral was kept from the old church.

Influenced by the French-born Archbishop Lamy and in dramatic contrast to the surrounding adobe structures, Saint Francis Cathedral was designed in the Romanesque Revival style. As such, the cathedral features characteristic round arches separated by Corinthian columns and truncated square towers. The large rose window in front and those of the Twelve Apostles in the lateral nave windows were imported from Clermont-Ferrand in France. The towers were originally planned to be topped with dramatic 160-foot (49 m) steeples, but due to lack of funds, these were never built. The left tower is a single row of bricks taller than the right tower. The cathedral was built from yellow limestone blocks quarried near the present site of Lamy. A 2005 addition to the upper facade of the cathedral is a small, round window featuring a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit. It is a stained glass replica of the translucent alabaster window designed in the 17th-century by the Italian artist Bernini for St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.

The Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi was officially elevated to a basilica by Pope Benedict XVI on October 4, 2005, when it was named the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.”

(Source: Internet)

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha - pray for us

We were very fortunate to have our picture taken standing next to the statue of  her because two days later, on Sunday October 21-2012, she was canonized to sainthood by Pope Benedict XVI in Vatican to be the first American Indian saint.

Known as the "Lily of the Mohawks," Kateri was born in 1656 to a pagan Iroquois father and an Algonquin Christian mother in what is today upstate New York. Her parents and only brother died when she was 4 during a smallpox epidemic that left her badly scarred and with impaired eyesight. She went to live with her uncle, a Mohawk, and was baptized Catholic by Jesuit missionaries. But she was ostracized and persecuted by other natives for her faith, and she died in what is now Canada when she was 24. (source: internet)

  • Parish established by Franciscan missionaries 1610 AD.

  • Church made a cathedral by Pope Pius IX 1853 AD.

  • Church elevated to basilica by Pope Benedict XVI 2005 AD.

Loretto Chapel

" It was in the year 1610 that the Spanish founded a town that is now known as Santa Fe, the capitol of the state of New Mexico. Santa Fe was originally called the Royal City of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi or, as it was named in Spanish, La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Assisi. It was occupied by Indians, Mexicans, and Spanish and was under Spanish control until a war which placed this area under the rule of the New Republic of Mexico for 25 years.

Later, As a result of the US victory in the Mexican war, this southwest area was ceded to the United States in 1848. Following the war we find the city of Santa Fe having a multiplicity of cultures. Native American Indian, Spanish, Mexican and Anglo cultures provide a rich, varied and very colorful heritage.

At the end of the Old Santa Fe Trail stands the Loretto Chapel. Inside the Gothic structure is the staircase referred to as miraculous, inexplicable, marvelous and is sometimes called St. Joseph’s Staircase. The stairway confounds architects, engineers and master craftsmen. It makes over two complete 360-degree turns, stands 20’ tall and has no center support. It rests solely on its base and against the choir loft. The risers of the 33 steps are all of the same height. Made of an apparently extinct wood species, it was constructed with only square wooden pegs without glue or nails.

The history of the Loretto Chapel began when Bishop Jean Baptisite Lamy was appointed by the Church to the New Mexico Territory in1850. Bishop Lamy, seeking to spread the faith and bring an educational system to this new territory, began a letter writing plea for priests, brothers and nuns to preach and teach. In one of his letters he is said to have written, “I have 6000 Catholics and 300 Americans.” The first acceptance of his general plea was from the Sisters of Loretto.

In 1852 the Sisters of Loretto responded to Lamy’s pleas by sending seven sisters who agreed to make this arduous journey to Santa Fe. Their trek was through St. Louis, then up the river to Independence, Mo. This small group was beset by a cholera epidemic, the Mother Superior died, and another nun was too ill to continue the journey and returned to Kentucky. An additional story continues that they traveled by wagon through bad weather, and Indian country.

The Sisters arrived in Santa Fe in 1852 and opened the Academy of Our Lady of Light (Loretto) in1853. The school was started and grew from very small beginnings to a school of around 300 students, despite the challenges of the territory (smallpox, tuberculosis, leaky mud roofs and even a brush with the rowdy Confederate Texans during the Civil War).

The school was started in 1853 and grew from very small beginnings to a school of around 300 students. The campus covered a square block with 10 buildings. Through tuition’s for the girls schooling, donations, and from the sisters own inheritances from their families, they built their school and chapel.

Jean Baptiste Lamy brought architect Antoine Mouly and his son, Projectus Mouly from Paris, France to Santa Fe to be architect – builders for what is now St. Francis Cathedral. It required ten years to build. During the first period of construction, and as an apparent afterthought, Archbishop Lamy advised and encouraged the sisters to utilize the father and son to design and build their dream chapel. The older Mouly had been involved in the renovation of Sainte Chapelle, in Paris, in the early 1800’s. Mouly was encouraged to fashion the Loretto Chapel after the Sainte Chapelle. It was the favorite chapel of the archbishop from his early days in Paris, France. It is reported that the sisters pooled their own inheritances to raise the $30,000 required to build this beautiful Gothic chapel.

It was decided that the school needed a chapel. Property was purchased and in 1873 work began on the Loretto Chapel.

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.

Stone for the Chapel was quarried from locations around Santa Fe including Cerro Colorado, about 20 miles from Santa Fe near the town of Lamy. The sandstone for the walls and the porous volcanic stone used for the ceiling were hauled to town by wagon.

The ornate stained glass in the Loretto Chapel also made part of its journey to Santa Fe via wagon. Purchased in 1876 from the DuBois Studio in Paris, the glass was first sent from Paris to New Orleans by sailing ship and then by paddle boat to St. Louis, MO. where it was taken by covered wagon over the Old Santa Fe Trail to the Chapel.

The Chapel was completed in 1878 and has since seen many additions and renovations such as the introduction of the Stations of the Cross, the Gothic altar and the frescos during the 1890s.

The Loretto Academy was closed in 1968, and the property was put up for sale. At the time of sale in 1971, Our Lady of Light Chapel was informally deconsecrated as a Catholic Chapel.

Loretto Chapel is now a private museum operated and maintained, in part, for the preservation of the Miraculous Staircase and the Chapel itself.
(Source: Internet)

Loretto Staircase

Two mysteries surround the spiral staircase in the Loretto Chapel: the identity of its builder and the physics of its construction.

When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft twenty-two feet above. Carpenters were called in to address the problem, but they all concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small Chapel.

Legend says that to find a solution to the seating problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, having come in answer to the sisters' prayers.

The stairway's carpenter, whoever he was, built a magnificent structure. The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today.

The staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. Also, it is said that the staircase was built without nails, only wooden pegs. Questions also surround the number of stair risers relative to the height of the choir loft and about the types of wood and other materials used in the stairway's construction.

Over the years many have flocked to the Loretto Chapel to see the Miraculous Staircase. The staircase has been the subject of many articles, TV specials, and movies including "Unsolved Mysteries" and the television movie titled "The Staircase."

(Source: Internet)

Thành Phố Santa Fe thuộc tiểu bang New Mexico của Hoa Kỳ có một bí mật mà nhiều năm nay đã không có ai giải đoán được, và đã thu hút hàng trăm ngàn du khách mổi năm, đó là "Nhà Nguyện Loretta" (Loretta Chapel).

Nhà nguyện Loretta được bắt đầu xây vào năm 1873 và hoàn tất vào năm 1878 vào thời đức Tổng Giám Mục Jean Baptiste Lamy bởi kiến trúc sư Antoine Mouly và con của ông là Projectus Mouly đến từ Paris, Pháp.

Điểm đặc biệt và thu hút của nhà nguyện là chiếc cầu thang hình trôn ốc từ tầng một lên ban-công ban hát.

Sau khi nhà nguyện xây xong, các sơ của nhà nguyện mới sực nhớ ra là không có cách gì để lên được ban-công hết. Sau khi hỏi ý kiến các kiến trúc sư và thợ mộc quanh vùng thì chỉ có cách duy nhất là xây một cầu thang thì mới lên được ban-công mà như vậy thì cầu thang sẽ chiếm mất khá nhiều chổ trong một nhà nguyện bé nhỏ nầy. Trước khi quyết định, các sơ mới tổ chức môt tuần cửu nhật để cầu xin sự hướng dẩn của Thánh Giuse là một thợ mộc. Đến ngày thứ chín, ngày cuối cùng của tuần cửu nhật, một ông già và một con lừa kéo theo một chiếc xe nhỏ trên có vài dụng cụ nghề mộc đến gỏ cửa nhà nguyện và xin được làm chiếc cầu thang như ý các sơ muốn. Một thời gian sau, chiếc cầu thang được hoàn thành bởi chính tay một mình ông thợ mộc đó. Khi các sơ biết được là cầu thang đã xây xong thì ông thợ mộc già đó đã bỏ đi rồi. Và cho đến bây giờ người ta cũng không biết ông thợ môc đó tên gì, và từ đâu đến và bằng cách nào mà cái cầu thang đứng vững được khi không có trụ chính ở giữa. Các nhà khoa học hiện đại đã bỏ công nghiên cứu cũng không tìm ra một công thức hay một giải đáp nào thỏa đáng. Đúng là một kiệt tác của nghề mộc xưa nay. Một phép lạ.

Vài điểm đáng lưu ý là:
1- Cầu thang được xây hình trôn ốc không dùng một cây đinh hay keo dán gì hết.
2- Cầu thang có tất cả 33 bậc, chính là tuổi của Chúa Giêsu.
3- Gổ làm cầu thang không tìm thấy tại Santa Fe hay các vùng lân cận.

Vì những điều lạ trên mà cái cầu thang trong nhà nguyên Loretta nầy được coi như là một phép lạ và được gọi là "Cầu Thang Thánh Giuse".

Walking around downtown of Santa Fe I felt like being in a Spanish town. Most buildings were in the form of squared corners and stucco style painted in warm sand color. Streets were narrow with sharp turns. There were many local vendors sitting along the building’s wall with their hand made products laid out in front of them for you to buy as souvenir.  The building, the store signs, the people, all gave you a warm and welcome feeling.

In the afternoon, we decided to stop for lunch in a restaurant that decorated in western style named The Cowgirl BPQ. I wanted to try the yak steak but … they ran out so I ordered wild animal bratwursts made from ground meat of rattlesnake, rabbit, elk, squirrel, and some other wild animal meat that I forgot. Unfortunately, I got stomach ache that afternoon. Ouch!

Flag of New Mexico

It was a very nice wedding and a great vacation. It's a little too short. I like very much to go back some day. I tried to buy a buffalo's skull like the one pictured here but could not find it. Well, maybe E-bay will do.

Santa Fe - Part 2

Chicago Midway Airport

Albuquerque airport

On the way to Santa Fe

(Gunfight at) OK Coral

Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy

Inside the cathedral

Lunch at a Japanese restaurant (10/18/2012)

Window shopping ...

Santa Fe Reporter, local daily newspaper

Local American Indians selling their craft

Chili City

Rehearsal dinner

Joshua, Van, Mai, Dustin

hee .. hee .. hee ..

Nicole, Bobby, Francis, Joshua

Wedding ceremony in Loretto Chapel


My name is ... not Bond, ... Bobby.

A native American chair made of raw cow hide

Lincoln Fox’s bronze statue “Dream of Flight”
in Albuquerque International Airport. (fr.www)