Duchesne, Rose Philippine, St.

views updated


Missionary, founder of the U.S. branch of the Society of the sacred heart; b. Grenoble, France, Aug. 29, 1769; d. St. Charles, Missouri, Nov. 18, 1852. Her father, Pierre François Duchesne, was active in the legal and political life of Grenoble, and in national life after 1797. Her mother, Rose (Perier) Duchesne, was from Dauphiné. In 1780 Philippine was sent to study at the Convent of the Visitation, Sainte-Marie-d'en-Haut, where she was attracted to religious life. Despite her father's opposition, she entered the Visitation Order on Sept. 10, 1788, but returned home in 1792 when, as a result of the French Revolution, religious were expelled from their convents. For ten years she devoted herself to charity, often sheltering priests persecuted by the revolutionary government, nursing the sick, and teaching the neglected children of Grenoble. When peace returned to France, she obtained possession of the convent of Sainte-Marie-d'en-Haut, which had been confiscated by the revolutionary government for a prison. In 1804, having failed in her efforts to bring the scattered Visitandine nuns back to their home, she and a few companions joined the Society of the Sacred Heart (founded in 1800 by St. Madeleine Sophie barat) and Sainte-Marie-d'en-Haut became the second convent of the new order.

In 1815 Mother Duchesne was transferred to Paris and founded the first convent of her order there. Three years later, she and four companions left France for the U.S., arriving at New Orleans, La., on May 29, 1818. Bp. William Du Bourg of Louisiana commissioned Mother Duchesne to open a school in St. Charles, Missouri, the first free school west of the Mississippi River for Catholic and non-Catholic children. In 1819 she built a convent at Florissant, Missouri, and operated a free parish school, a small orphanage, a short-lived school for native girls, and an academy for boarding pupils, along with a novitiate for U.S. members of the Sacred Heart Society. In 1827 Bishop Joseph Rosati welcomed her to St. Louis, Missouri, where John Mullanphy provided a house and 24 acres of land for an orphanage, academy, and parish school. At 72, she founded a mission school for Potawatomi native girls at Sugar Creek, Kansas. She did not teach the children, for she could not learn their language, but she nursed the sick among the Potawatomi, who called her Quah-kah-ka-num-ad, Woman-who-prays-always. In 1842, she was recalled to St. Charles, where she spent the remaining years of her life. She was beatified in 1940, and canonized by John Paul II on July 3,1988.

Feast: Nov. 18.

Bibliography: l. callan, Philippine Duchesne (Westminster, Md. 1957); The Society of the Sacred Heart in North America (New York 1937); Philippine Duchesne, Frontier Missionary of the Sacred Heart (Westminster, Md. 1965). c. collins, m. a. guste, and a. thompsons, eds., Rose Philippine Duchesne (Washington, D.C. 1988). c. m. mooney, Philippine Duchesne: A Woman with the Poor (New York 1990).

[l. callan]

About this article

Duchesne, Rose Philippine, St.

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article