“On the twelfth day of Christmas…”
Happy holidays from the Loretto Heritage Center staff! To celebrate the season, we posted photos for the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to our Facebook page. All of the images relate to Loretto artifacts and stories. If you’re not on Facebook, you can see all twelve days of posts below!
“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.” This watercolor painting of a bird and flowers was done by Sr. Marie Therese Koch (1907-2008). Marie Therese painted this in 1988, after her retirement from teaching in Loretto elementary schools. She had a very active retirement – perhaps that’s why she lived to age 100! In the 1980s, her creative interests such as painting were in addition to taking college classes and working for Long Beach City College in California.
“On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me two turtle doves.” The birds on this colorful cross may symbolize peace. The cross came from El Salvador, where several Loretto Sisters and Co-members volunteered during and after the 1979-1992 Salvadoran Civil War.
“On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me three French hens.” Did you know that the Rakes family, who run the Loretto Motherhouse Farm, raise chickens? Here’s Cody Rakes taking Speckles, his daughter’s chicken, for a walk during Family Ag Day in 2021.
“On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me four calling birds.” Another Loretto teacher who took up painting after retiring from a lengthy career, Sr. Ann Mueller painted this gourd birdhouse around 1990. One of the Motherhouse Housekeeping staff brought the plain gourd to Ann and asked her to paint it. The employee kept this piece as a decoration in her home until generously donating it to the Heritage Center earlier this year.
“On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me five golden rings.” This particular golden ring came from Loretto Academy in St. Louis, MO, in 1951. The school’s motto “Fides Cultura Mores” (Faith, Culture, Morals) surrounds the abbreviation of the school’s name.
“On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me six geese a-laying.” In this case, the geese have already hatched! Peg Jacobs, a prolific photographer of the natural world on the Loretto Motherhouse campus, snapped this image of a family of geese in Mary’s Lake in 2018.
“On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven swans a-swimming.” No swans here at the Motherhouse, but there have been a number of ducks! This particular duck is enjoying a swim at the Motherhouse grotto, beneath the praying statue of Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes.
“On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me eight maids a-milking.” This cow and her calf are hanging out with a Sister in Mora, N.M. Loretto operated two schools in Mora, Annunciation Academy (1864-1916) and Mora Public School (1873-1964).
“On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me nine ladies dancing.” These ladies, freshmen at Loretto High School in Louisville, KY, were joyfully celebrating May Day in 1948.
“On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ten lords a-leaping.” These students were taking a break from their studies to play basketball at Loretto Academy in Las Cruces, NM, in 1915.
“On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me eleven pipers piping.” This piping marching band is from St. Ignatius School in El Paso, TX. St. Ignatius was a large parochial school for Hispanic children that Loretto staffed from 1905 to 1957. The St. Ignatius Band played for events in El Paso and also traveled to other states for performances.
“On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming.” These musicians are from Father McElroy’s Orphan Boys’ Band. They are celebrating the dedication of St. Anselm’s School in San Anselmo, CA. This parochial school opened in August 1924, and Sisters of Loretto served there until 1935.