Rose Philippine Duchesne



    DUCHESNES, St. Rose Philippine (1769-1852). Born at Grenoble, France; died at St. Charles, Missouri.)

    Duchesne entered the Visitation convent at Grenoble but returned home in 1791 when the French Revolution suppressed religious orders. Efforts to revive the convent following the revolution failed.
    In 1804, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, founder of the Society of the Sacred Heart, established a house of her sisters at Grenoble and Rose joined them. She made her profession in 1805 and in 1818 went to America as a missionary, fulfilling an ambition she had formed at the age of eight when she heard stories of America from a Jesuit priest.
    She served there for nearly thirty-five years, much of that time as superior, founding convents and establishing schools, including the first free school west of the Mississippi River.


    She and her sisters served an area that ranged from Missouri to Louisiana to Kansas, their ministry complicated by the challenges of pioneer life.
   They endured everything from inadequate housing to yellow fever to such bitterly cold weather that the milk in the pail froze between the barn and the house.
    At one point , slander from jealous outsiders nearly ruined a school: "They said everything about us except that we poison the children," Duchesnes wrote.
    When she was seventy one, she helped to set up a school for Natives Americans in Kansas, but after a year retired to her convent in St. Charles, Missouri.
    She died there at the age of eighty tree. A contemporary said that "everything in and about her was stamped with the seal of crucified life… She was the St. Francis of Assisi of the Society."

    Feast : November 18

Cynthia Cavnar

From The Saints from A to Z: An Inspirational Dictionary (Servant Publications) by Cynthia Cavnar, copyright Cynthia Cavnar.


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