Nerinx History


Nerinx Hall is part of a proud history that began with three pioneer women—Mary Rhodes, Ann Havern, and Christina Stuart—who in 1812 founded the Sisters of Loretto. The burgeoning community was nurtured by Father Charles Nerinckx, a missionary priest from Belgium, who helped them establish the order.

Charles Nerinckx (1761-1824) was ordained a priest in 1785. As the French Revolution spilled into Belgium, Father Nerinckx was forced into hiding. After many months living secretly in the attic of a hospital run by his aunt, where he prayed, studied, wrote, and went out to minister at night, he volunteered for the American missions where he hoped to work openly and actively again.

Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore appointed Father Nerinckx to serve in the Kentucky territory. He arrived at St. Stephen's Farm on July 18, 1805 (now the site of the Loretto Motherhouse), where he lived with Reverend Stephen Theodore Badin, the first man ordained a priest in the United States. Together, they served the far flung Catholic peoples of the Kentucky region.

Father Nerinckx supported the initiative of Mary Rhodes and her sister when they began educating girls in St. Charles, Kentucky. This seed grew so well, attracting both pupils and other young ladies as teachers, that he was glad to support the women by helping them apply to the bishop and writing the rules for establishing the Sisters of Loretto.

In 1924, the Sisters named their new school Nerinx Hall as a tribute to his work.  

Our Webster Groves Home

In 1924, Nerinx Hall began educating young women in the Lockwood family home in Webster Groves, graduating its first class in May 1925. Over the years our school has grown in enrollment and physical facilities. We added a gym in 1947, and moved the school next door in 1954 into our current building. 

Kentucky  School House

Part of Father Nerinckx's cabin from Little Loretto at St. Charles was relocated to the Loretto Motherhouse property in Marion County, Kentucky, in 1895. 

Photo of the Lockwood House from the 1940s

Lockwood House in the 1940s

Nerinx Hall today

Nerinx Hall campus today