The Sisters of Loretto came to Santa Fe in 1852. Archbishop John Baptiste Lamy invited them to found an academy for girls. For the next 115 years, Loretto Academy provided higher education for thousands of girls and young women in Santa Fe. The school was located on property just off the plaza where the Loretto Inn and Loretto Chapel are located today. After establishing the school in Santa Fe they also founded academies in Albuquerque, El Paso and Denver. In 1968 the nuns closed the school and their student body became a part of Santa Fe’s St. Michael’s High School.
A special section next to the chapel at Rosario cemetery is reserved for the Sisters of Loretto and the La Sallian Christian Brothers. Both of these religious orders came to Santa Fe in the 1850s at the behest of Archbishop Jean Baptiste to create a new educational system. The Sisters of Loretto were the first to arrive in 1852.
Rosario cemetery is located on the grounds where Diego de Vargas encamped when he and his army arrived in September of 1692. The Spanish soldiers came to resettle Santa Fe following the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Rosario Chapel is located in the northwest corner of the cemetery. Diego de Vargas had the original church built in gratitude for the resettlement of the capital city. There is a shrine in the chapel to La Conquistadora, the oldest Madonna in the United States. La Conquistadora accompanied de Vargas in 1692.