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Susanna Pyatt

Susanna Pyatt is the curator for the Loretto Heritage Center. A graduate of Western Kentucky University's Folk Studies program, she geeks out over American communal societies, historic buildings, and the artifacts of daily life.
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Tracing the Bowling Family

By Susanna Pyatt / January 31, 2023 /
Photo collage of 14 habited nuns, all sharing a family resemblance.

It’s not uncommon to find Sisters of Loretto who are biologically related to each other, usually as sisters, cousins, or aunts and nieces. Heritage Center staff may find these connections…

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Sister Gabriel Mary’s Artwork

By Susanna Pyatt / November 29, 2022 /
A smiling woman stands in a silkscreening workshop, holding up a beautiful print of pinks, reds and white.

Guess which artist is most represented in the Loretto Heritage Center? Sister Gabriel Mary Hoare! We have over 70 works by her in the collections here. People who have been…

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The Spalding Women and Loretto

By Susanna Pyatt / October 24, 2022 /
Mid-1800's Portrait of a woman in a buttoned-up dress with a lace collar. Her hair is pulled up with a wide ribbon.

Loretto numbers among its early students and Sisters several descendants of Benedict Spalding (1746-1815), one of the leaders of the Maryland-to-Kentucky Catholic migration. Benedict’s wife and children accompanied him in…

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Loretto’s Years in Arkansas, 1838-1845

By Susanna Pyatt / June 7, 2022 /
Black and white archival photo of a white wooden church with a bell tower and dark roof. Headstones can be seen in the foreground.

Despite the fact that Loretto established three different schools in Arkansas, they all vie for some of the shortest-lived Loretto houses. None lasted more than four years. They were all…

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A History Mystery

By Susanna Pyatt / April 27, 2022 /
Framed oil painting by Frans Floris the Elder

Back in January, the Heritage Center staff were asked about an oil painting of the Epiphany that hangs in the Motherhouse Infirmary. This work, showing the three Magi visiting the…

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The Sisters Who Left for Chicago

By Susanna Pyatt / February 22, 2022 /
Historical photo of handwritten census document listing Sisters of Loretto in Chicago in 1870

On June 9, 1864, a Sister once lauded as “the idol and admiration of all those under her care” walked out of the Loretto convent in Cairo, Illinois, taking with…

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Smuggling Mother Mary Out of China

By Susanna Pyatt / March 5, 2021 /
A historical newspaper photo of a nun in habit and a woman in glasses each holding the same standard.

Placed in the bottom of a display case in the Heritage Center museum is a “vexillum” or standard, a marble base and orb from which extends a metal pole with…

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Sr. Grace Clare Shanley in China

By Susanna Pyatt / January 8, 2021 /

We have two interesting artifacts at the Heritage Center that nearly bookend the 15 years that Sister Grace Clare Shanley, SL, spent serving in China. The first is a small…

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