By Katie Santa Ana
With October upon us and Halloween just around the corner, the season for ghost stories is here! Sister Joan Campbell SL (1929-2007) was always on the look out for Loretto ghost stories and gathered a few together in her files. Her notes are now in the archives as part of her personal papers, from which we gleaned the following mysterious tales:
In Bernalillo, New Mexico, a new convent was built in 1951 after the old convent was damaged in a flood. Despite the newness of the building, one Sister of Loretto remembers several strange happenings.
“One morning at breakfast our sugar bowls were filled with salt, and the salt cellars had sugar in them; buttermilk was in bottles which always contained regular milk; and in the press where the dishes were kept the cups and other dishes were placed so close to the edge of the shelf, that when the cabinet door was opened the dishes fell out and broke. In the parlor ‘our ghost’ had sprinkled syrup or honey on the floor and then flour over it. Everyone was under suspicion, but no one ever seemed to know why such things happened. These events ceased after this one episode.”
The same Sister remembered another odd occurrence, this time while living in Santa Fe.
“In the old three story adobe building which has been torn down and is now the site of the new hotel, there was a circular stair way which led up to the one attic room which was located in the tower. Some of the sisters had rooms and alcoves on that floor. Hanging over the steps there was an old fashioned light fixture with a tin shade. On a perfectly calm night, with no perceptible breeze outside and no windows to cause it, the light fixture would move in a circular motion and the shadow of the steps and railing would move over the whole area. No one seemed to have an explanation. Our bathroom was an area at the end of the hallway! That was when I wished I was an angel. I wonder if our ghost still resides in the hotel parking lot.”
Santa Fe certainly has a reputation as a haunted city; another Sister living there in the 1970’s heard rumors that the rattling of rosary beads could be heard in the basement of the old convent. However, when the Sisters would open the basement door and look around, nothing was ever found.
Sister Edwardine Boone SL told our last spooky tale to Joan and several other sisters who were visiting her in Kansas City, Missouri at the time:
“She told us the story of Old Loretto Academy in Kansas City when she came early one morning to chapel and knelt in the back pew on the right side. She saw a Sister kneeling in prayer in the front pew on the left side. After a few minutes, the Sister stood up, genuflected and walked down the main aisle. Mo. Edwardine said it was the Sister they had buried three or four days before.
‘Are you sure,’ I said. ‘The chapel was probably not too well lit at that time of the morning.’
‘I saw her!’ Mo. Edwardine repeated very firmly.”
If you have a Loretto ghost story you’d like to share, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Halloween!