Legacy of Loretto

This 1944 photograph features the Loretto nuns at Christmas time in Santa Fe. On Sept. 26, 1852 the Sisters of Loretto arrived in Santa Fe in covered wagons. At the behest of Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy, the sisters founded an academy in the capitol city the following year. For the next century the nuns started schools throughout New Mexico, from Chama to Las Cruces. Santa Fe’s Loretto Academy was located off the plaza where the Loretto Inn and Loretto Chapel are today. For 115 years Loretto Academy provided more than a thousand young women with a rigorous-high quality education and spiritual guidance. In 1969 the school closed and became a part of St. Michael’s High School.

In the Beginning

In 1812 Loretto founders, Mary Rhodes, Ann Havern and Christina Stuart began teaching children on the Kentucky frontier. They sought the guidance of Father Charles Nerinckx, a Belgium missionary priest, who served the area. As a result of that initiative, the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross came into existence. In 1824 the first academy came to fruition in Nernix, K.Y., where the Loretto Motherhouse is currently located. Loretto have a long tradition in teaching the traditional disciplines of art and science. They also promote the creative arts with a view toward responsible citizenship. The sister’s global network includes communities in Pakistan, Ghana, Guatemala, Latin America and the Caribbean. The Loretto nuns also publish the quarterly newsletter, the Loretto Earth Network, devoted to environmental issues.

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