Religious Orders

Bardstown/Nelson County


Gethsemani Abbey of Gethsemani

The Abbey of Gethsemani, founded in 1848 by the Order of Trappist Cistercians, is the final resting place of world-renowned spiritual writer Thomas Merton. It is home to America’s oldest and largest order of Trappist monks, who welcome spiritual seekers from all over the world. Tour the Welcome Center with its display area and video presentation about monastery life. Visit the gift shop for Gethsemani Farms products: semi-soft cheeses, fudge and fruitcake laced with fine Kentucky bourbon.

3642 Monks Rd., Trappist, KY 40051;, 502-549-3117

nazareth-sm Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Motherhouse

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Motherhouse is located on Hwy 31-E. The SCNS began in 1812 with Bishop David and Catherine Spalding at St. Thomas area. In 1822 they moved to their current location in on Hwy 31-E on the north side of Bardstown. Stroll the serenely picturesque grounds of the Nazareth campus on a self-guided walking tour, see the circa 1850 St. Vincent de Paul Church and explore the history of The Sisters of Charity in Heritage Hall there. The museum celebrates the order’s story and mission. Interpretive exhibits illustrate the leadership of the sisters in areas of education, health care and social services. Follow the signs on the campus to The Nazareth Visitor Center, which shows a 10-minute DVD of where the Sisters currently  minister in 5 countries.

40 West Dr., Nazareth, KY 40048;, 502-348-1500

Did You Know . . . You can schedule a private retreat at the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Motherhouse. Includes overnight accommodations and meals at the Motherhouse. Enjoy quiet time to reflect on the beautiful grounds. Mass is celebrated daily in the historic St. Vincent Church.

Springfield/Washington County


stRose-smSt. Rose Priory

Founded in 1806, St. Rose Priory was the first foundation of the Dominican Friars (Order of Preachers) in the United States. The friars, who came from England, established St. Thomas of Aquin College (1812-1828), the first Catholic educational institute west of the Alleghenies. One of the famous names on the college’s roster is Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy.  The priory served as the novitiate for the St. Joseph Province intermittently for nearly 150 years. The original Tudor Gothic Church, built in 1809, is now the sanctuary of the current church. The frontal addition was constructed in 1855.

868 Loretto Rd., Springfield, KY 40069;, 859-336-3121

StCatherineMotherhouseSt. Catharine Motherhouse

In 1822 nine women from St. Rose Parish formed the first congregation of Dominican Sisters in the United States, near Cartwright Creek. The current St. Catharine Motherhouse was constructed in 1904 after a fire destroyed the original location. This building housed an academy and a residence for the Sisters until the academy closed in 1971. In 2009 the St. Catharine Dominicans joined with seven other congregations to become the Dominican Sisters of Peace. Located on the grounds is the 700-acre St. Catharine Farm, a member of Kentucky Proud, whose 300 herd of beef cattle are non-ASH (no antibiotics, steroids or hormones). The Heritage Room is open to visitors from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-9 p.m. daily?. The Dominican Mile, a new one-mile path around St. Catharine College and the St. Catharine Motherhouse, is open for strolling and meditation.

2645 Bardstown Rd., St. Catharine, KY 40061;, 859-336-9303


Lebanon/Marion County


lorettoMotherhouseSisters of Loretto Motherhouse

The foundation of one of the oldest religious communities of women in the United States – and first religious order of women west of the Allegheny Mountains – the Sisters of Loretto Motherhouse is rich in tradition. Originally named St. Stephen’s Farm by Father Stephen Badin, itis a working farm and place of tranquil, natural beauty that comprises a number of historical buildings, including Father Nerinckx’s circa 1812 cabin.

See a circa 1810 painting by Pierre Joseph Goedts, walk through the Stations of the Seven Dolors that date back to 1911 and tour the studio and art gallery of artist-in-residence Jeanne Dueber, who draws inspiration from the grounds and landscape. Attend mass at 10 a.m. on Sundays. The Motherhouse hosts free concerts, film screenings and other performing arts programs throughout the year that are open to the public.

515 Nerinx Rd., Nerinx, KY 40049;, 270-865-5811