Four Sisters of Loretto, Mother Magdalen Hayden and Sisters Roberta Brown, Rosana Dant and Catherine Mahoney, arrived in Santa Fe from Kentucky on September 26, 1852. In January 1853 they established Our Lady of Light Academy, later known as Loretto, the first school for young women in the Territory of New Mexico.
Between 1863 and 1879 the Sisters with the help of local people raised funds to build the Loretto Chapel. During the next century, hundreds of women, many of them of Hispanic heritage, joined the Sisters of Loretto. Lucia Perea became the first native-born New Mexican superior at Loretto, Santa Fe in 1896.