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Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne
  • Century: 1769-1852
  • Patronage: French-American Saint
  • Feast Day: November 18th

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne was born August 29, 1769 in Grenoble, France.  She was the daughter of Pierre-Francois Duchesne, and famous lawyer, and her mother was Perier, an ancestor of Casimir-Perier, President of France.  When she was 19 years old, she joined the convent of the Visitation.  The convent however shut down in 1792.  She was educated by the Visitation Nuns, and entered that Order.  She witnessed the dispersion of that convent during the French Revolution’s reign of terror, and the attempt to re-establish the convent.  She finally accepted the offer of the Mother Superior, to receive her community into the Society of the Sacred Heart, and in 1815, St. Rose was instructed to create a Sacred Heart House in Paris.  

In 1818, Rose Philippine Duchesne headed out to America with a few other members of her Society.  She arrived in New Orleans, and traveled the Louisiana territory, sailed up the Mississippi to St. Louis, was welcomed to stay in New Orleans by Bishop Dubourg, but she finally settled her colony at St. Charles, Missouri.  Here she created a new house of the Sacred Heart Society in a log cabin.  This was the first house ever built outside of France.  This house faced many struggles including lack of funds and very cold weather.  Another problem was that she struggled to learn English.  She and four other members of her Society continued to create schools in America, and by the year 1828, six houses had been added to her Society in America.  

St. Rose wrote, “Poverty and Christian heroism are here, and trials are the riches of the Priests in this land”.  In 1826, Pope Leo XII recognized the work being done by her in the US.  She truly desired to work with the Native Americans.  Years later, a school in Kansas was founded for the Potawatomi tribe children.  She spent much of her time caring for the sick Native Americans at this new House.  The Native Americans named her “Quahkahkanumad”, which stood for “Woman who prays always”.  She was inspired by other’s writings, and was determined to continue on and help students in the Rocky Mountains, but she became ill when she was 73, and had to go back to St. Charles.  During the last ten years of her life, she spent in prayer at St. Charles, and she died on November 18, 1852, at the age of 83.  Pope John Paul II canonized her, on July 3, 1988, as a French-American Saint.  

Practical Take Away

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, was born in France, and founded the Society of the Sacred Heart, R.S.C.J. in America.  She was a French-American Saint, who spent the last half of her life teaching and serving the people of the Midwestern United States.  She was a prominent member of the Society of the Sacred Heart, and founded the first Houses in America.  She built many schools while in America, and eventually passed away at the age of 83, in St. Charles, Missouri.