Duchesne, Rose Philippine (1769–1852)

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Duchesne, Rose Philippine (1769–1852)

Roman Catholic missionary who founded the U.S. branch of the Society of the Sacred Heart, and is one of three American saints (not native-born). Name variations: Saint Rose Duchesne; Quah-kah-ka-num-ad (Woman-who-prays-always). Born in Grenoble, France, on August 29, 1769; died in St. Charles, Missouri, on November 18, 1852; daughter of Pierre François (a lawyer and politician) and Rose (Perier) Duchesne; attended Convent of the Visitation, Sainte-Marie-d'en-Haut.

On September 19, 1788, against her father's wishes, Rose Philippine Duchesne followed her calling to the religious life, entering the Visitation Order at the Convent at Sainte-Marie-d'en-Haut, where she had previously received her education. In 1792, as a result of the French Revolution, she was ejected from the convent that was used as a prison by the revolutionary government and sent home to Grenoble. She spent the next ten years teaching and performing charitable work, which often included sheltering priests who were persecuted by the revolutionary government. When peace was restored, she returned to the convent of Sainte-Marie-d'en-Haut, hoping to reunite the scattered Visitandine nuns. Failing in her efforts, in 1804 she and several companions joined the Society of the Sacred Heart, founded by St. Madeleine Sophie Barat in 1800. Thus, the convent of Sainte-Marie-d'en-Haut became the second convent of this new order.

In 1815, Duchesne was transferred to Paris and founded the first Sacred Heart convent there. Three years later, she arrived in the United States, where she established a school in St. Charles, Missouri, the first free school west of the Mississippi River for both Catholic and non-Catholic children. In 1819, she built a convent in Florissant, Missouri, which housed a free parish school, an orphanage, a boarding academy, a school for Native American girls, and the first novitiate for U.S. members of the Sacred Heart Society. In 1827, Duchesne relocated to St. Louis, where she presided over an orphanage, academy, and parish school. At the advanced age of 72, she founded a mission school for Potawatomi Indian girls at Sugar Creek, Kansas. She also nursed the sick among the tribe, who called her Quah-kah-ka-num-ad (Woman-whoprays-always). She spent her final years at St. Charles, Missouri, and died there in 1852. When Rose Duchesne was beatified on May 12, 1940, and canonized in 1988, she joined Frances Cabrini (1946) and John Neumann (1977) as the third American saint (not native-born).

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