Welcome to LOREtto (pronounced “LORE-etto”), a blog created by Loretto Heritage Center to share insights into the rich history of the Loretto Community. Inspiration for each post comes from the records and artifacts found in our archives and museum. For additional information about the archives and museum, please see the Loretto Heritage Center webpage.

LOREtto: Sister Athanasium and the Spirited Wathens

Sometime around 1960, Sister Jean Paul Steube, a Loretto novice, wrote a colorful biography of Sister Mary Athanasius Wathen. In that piece, she shared many delightful stories of Sister Athanasius’s long life. Continue reading

LOREtto: Displaying Loretto at the Chicago World’s Fair

Visitors to the Loretto Heritage Center may recall a display in the museum about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The deep display case is designed to mimic the Sisters of Loretto exhibit at the Fair, where the Sisters placed work from their students for millions of fairgoers to see. Continue reading

LOREtto: Which Way to the Novitiate?

On the grounds of Loretto Motherhouse, in an area of central Kentucky which is today still quite rural, two imposing brick buildings stand as witnesses to more than 175 years of Loretto’s education of young women.
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LOREtto: The Eventful Lives of the Brown Sisters

Even after 12 years of working in the Loretto Archives and Heritage Center, assistant and docent Marcia Mohin still can be surprised. As she processes files of Loretto Community members past and present, she finds stories that beg to be shared with a wider audience. Continue reading

LOREtto: Ghost Stories

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. Continue reading

LOREtto: Eulalia Flaget and the Bishop’s Crucifix

In the museum collection of the Loretto Heritage Center, we have a small, unassuming crucifix with an interesting egg shaped wooden case. In now fading white ink, “Rev. Flaget’s Rosary given to Loretto 1925” is written along the juncture where the two halves of the case twist together. Continue reading


Loretto Academy at Loretto Motherhouse, opened in 1834 in today’s “Rhodes Hall,” steadily pursued its mission of education, through times of financial boom and bust, through the fire of 1858 which destroyed most of the Motherhouse, and despite the turmoil of the Civil War. Continue reading

LOREtto Teaching: From the Three Rs to the Higher Branches

Two buildings on the grounds of Loretto Motherhouse are in the midst of significant anniversaries. The buildings that today we call “Rhodes Hall” and the “Novitiate/Academy Building” together mark 175 years of young ladies’ education at the Sisters of Loretto Motherhouse in central Kentucky. Continue reading

LOREtto: Thomas Merton and Loretto

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Thomas Merton’s death. As a monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani, Merton was a neighbor of the Sisters at the Loretto Motherhouse. The Heritage Center is currently planning an exhibit for this fall that highlights the friendship, mentorship, and dialogue between Merton and the Sisters of Loretto in the 1960s. Continue reading

LOREtto: Sisters in Service During World War I

A row of white tents lined the campus of Loretto Heights Academy in Denver during July 1917. For three weeks, the Heights was transformed into the National Service School, a camp started by the Woman’s Section of the Navy League that trained women in service skills needed during wartime and national disasters. Continue reading

LOREtto: Getting to Know Florence Wolff

Flipping through the paper finding aids of the Sisters of Loretto archives, one name appears at the top of each page more often than not: Sister Florence Wolff. Continue reading

LOREtto: The Sisters of Loretto and the Great Flood of 1937

Sister Nerinckx Blincoe SL, Superior of Loretto High School in Louisville, found herself in a predicament on Saturday, January 23, 1937. The Ohio River was flooding at record levels, and Louisville had been hit with 15 inches of rain in 12 days. Continue reading

LOREtto: Loretto in Taos

Fifty years of Loretto in Taos! And there would be almost one hundred more years! Who were these Loretto women? What part did they play in Taos history and what was their daily life like? Continue reading

LOREtto: Our First Registered Nurse

While the Sisters of Loretto are well known for the hundreds of teachers in their history, many Sisters also chose medical professions. While Sisters of Loretto served early on in nursing roles – such as during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 – it was not until 1944 that our very first Sister of Loretto, Sister M. Sienna (Mary Clara) Jansing SL, completed her certification to become a registered nurse. Continue reading

LOREtto: Agnesetta Reid’s Only Solace

For today’s LOREtto blog post, I’d like to highlight the life of Sister Agnesetta Reid SL, whose personal papers I recently processed in the Archives. Though Agnesetta’s life was short and often full of suffering, she was an inspiration to many and her legacy lives on today. Continue reading

LOREtto: Loretto History Through Comics

Throughout their 200-year history, Lorettos have seen the importance of sharing their past. Numerous Sister of Loretto have used their writing talents to record the history of their community through books, articles, pamphlets, and more. One unique way that stories about Loretto have been told are in the form of comics. Continue reading

LOREtto: Our Second Archivist, M. Matilda Barrett

In June of 1968, author Paul Horgan wrote to Sister Mary Luke Tobin SL:​ ​“I have never forgotten the kindness and generosity of my reception at Loretto; and Sister Matilda’s lovely enthusiasm, her warm eagerness to help a fellow-scholar, and her imaginative search for materials touched me greatly.​ Continue reading​

LOREtto: “A small spot of land …” (Part 1)

The Heritage Center has a beautifully conserved print of Little Loretto, the original home of the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross. Continue reading

LOREtto: Imelda Wallace and Old Mrs. Sullivan’s Curse

As I process the personal papers that sisters donated to the archives, I learn about the varied lives and careers that Sisters of Loretto have had. One sister whose story has fascinated me recently is Sister Imelda Wallace SL, the focus of this week’s LOREtto blog post. Continue reading

LOREtto: Our First Archivist, M. Antonella Hardy

This article marks a first for the Loretto Heritage Center, posting from Nerinx, Kentucky: the inaugural post for our new blog, LOREtto. Through this platform, we hope to share stories from the vibrant history of the Loretto Community we at the Heritage Center encounter daily in our museum and archives. In keeping with the spirit of “firsts,” for this first article we will look into the history of the archives itself and our very first archivist: Mary Antonella Hardy, better known as simply “Antonella.” Continue reading