The Loretto Sisters and Loretto, Ky.

Historical Markers #206 and #207 commemorate the Loretto Sisters and the community of Loretto in Marion County.

The Sisterhood of Loretto was established in Marion County in order to promote female piety and education. The Reverend Charles Nerinckx, an early pioneer and missionary, founded the Sisterhood of Loretto in April, 1812. The purpose of this establishment was to enable young Catholic girls who wished to retire from the world and to devote themselves to prayer and charity to be useful to themselves and others by educating poor children.

The Sisters of Loretto was officially organized when Father Nerinckx conferred the religious veil on three young women at the foot of the cross in St. Charles Church, a log cabin located at Hardin's Creek, Kentucky. They were the first members of the "Little Society of the Friends of Mary under the Cross of Jesus." The name was later changed to "Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross."

The Loretto Motherhouse property has been a working farm from the time Reverend Stephen Badin, the first priest ordained in the United States, purchased the land in 1796 and named it St. Stephen's Farm. It became home to the Sisters of Loretto in 1824, when Bishop Joseph Flaget moved the convent there after the death of Father Nerinckx.

Today, the 788-acre property is the permanent home for about one hundred sisters and co-members. The site includes the farm, a licensed long-term care facility, residential buildings, and two retreat centers. Still based in the rural community of Nerinx, Kentucky, the organization has communities in sixteen states and in the countries of Bolivia, Chile, China, Ghana, Pakistan and Peru.