Monday, August 8, 2022

St Philippine Rose Duchesne – Feast Day – November 18

St Rose Philippine Duchesne was a religious sister born on August 29 1769 in Grenoble, France, and died on November 18 1852 at the age of 83 in St Charles, Missouri, United States. We celebrate her feast day on November 18 every year in the Catholic Church.

St Philippine Rose Duchesne is the Patron Saint of

  • Perseverance amid adversity
  • Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau
St Philippine Rose Duchesne, Virgin Biography
 
Date of Birth August 29 1769
Place of Birth Grenoble, France
Profession Religious Sister and educator
Place of Work Midwestern United States
Date of Death November 18, 1852 (aged 83)
Place of Death St. Charles, Missouri, U.S.
Feast Day November 18
Beatification By Pope Pius XII on May 12, 1940 in Vatican City
Canonization By Pope John Paul II on July 3 1988 in Vatican City
Patron Saint of
  1. Perseverance amid adversity
  2. Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau

St Philippine Rose Duchesne Life History

St Rose Philippine Duchesne was the second born in a family of one son and seven daughters. Her father was a famous lawyer called Pierre-François Duchesne and her mother was Rose-Euphrosine Périer.

Her cousin, Casimir was the grandfather of Jean Casimir-Perier who became the president of France from 1894 to 1895.

St Rose Philippine Duchesne skin became slightly scarred after she contracted smallpox in 1781. She was educated at the prestigious Visitandine nuns Monastery of Sainte-Marie-d’en-Haut near Grenoble.

Unfortunately, the following year, her father pulled her out of that school and gave her homeschooling after he realized that she had started to be attracted to the monastic life.

When she was 19 years of age, in 1788, she decided to join the Visitation of Holy Mary religious order despite strong opposition from her family members. She tricked her aunt to accompany her to visit the monastery and immediately they were there, she requested to be admitted and her aunt was left to go back home alone to convey the news.

Her monastery was ruined and shut down in 1792 during the French Revolution and the nuns dispersed to take refuge in different destinations. St Rose Philippine Duchesne went back home and lived at the country home together with her two aunts who were nuns.

In 1801, after calm returned in France under Napoleon Bonaparte, the Catholic Church began regaining its foothold. St Rose Philippine Duchesne acquired the former Visitation Monastery, which was in ruins after being used as a prison and military barrack. She initially attempted to rebuild it but its living conditions did not improve much. Some of the nuns who had initially returned went away due to poor and austere living conditions leaving St Rose Philippine Duchesne and three other nuns.

A nun by the name Madeleine-Sophie Barat founded the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1800 in France and started calling themselves “Madames of the Sacred Heart”. When she wanted to establish a community in Grenoble, she was advised by her confessor, Fr. Joseph Varin to contact St Rose Philippine Duchesne.

When the two met and talked, St Rose Philippine Duchesne agreed to merge her Visitation community into the Society of the Sacred Heart. The new outfit had the same aspirations as those that each had. They educated young women but were not cloistered. Their lifelong friendship started there.

In 1815, Duchesne with the help of Barat went to Paris and established a school and a Convent of the Sacred Heart and became the Mistress of novices.

The Society of the Sacred Heart congregation was formally approved in 1826 by Pope Leo XII.

From her childhood days, St Rose Philippine Duchesne had a strong desire to become a missionary after hearing inspiring stories from missionary priests in Louisiana a French colony state in the United States.

When the bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana wanted to get teachers and educators for the parishioners in his diocese, he visited Paris, France, in 1817, and met with St Rose Philippine Duchesne. When she heard about that opportunity, she sought Barat’s permission to go to Louisiana to serve there.

In 1818, she sailed, accompanied by 4 other sisters, to the US and arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana but later moved up the Mississippi River to St. Louis County, and finally settled in St. Charles County in Missouri. St Charles was one of the remotest areas in the US at that time. During this journey, she survived several bouts of diseases that nearly killed her.

They founded a convent of the Sacred Heart in St Charles with so many hardships and trials and poverty. The first house they built was a log cabin which came to be known as Duquette Mansion, that became the first free school west of the Mississippi River.

The bishop later moved them to the town of Florissant, Missouri where they opened a novitiate and a school. However, they still encountered many hardships due to lack of funds, cold weather, and hunger. 

After 10 years in the US, in 1828, these five pioneers of the Society of the Sacred Heart in the US had grown exponentially to six communities and several schools. 

The society’s property that was in St. Charles County was acquired by the Jesuits in 1828 and they built a Church. They then requested the sisters to return to their original cabin and assist in operating a parish school.

The sisters also established another mission in 1841, in Kansas City in Missouri among the native tribe of Potawatomi with the help of the Jesuits. St Rose Philippine Duchesne was aging, aged 71 years, and could not do much work or teach because her English was terrible, she was left to spend much of her time in prayer. The children used to refer to her as “the woman who always prays”.

She was ever concerned about the plight of Native Americans, and much of her work was devoted to educating them, caring for their sick, and working against alcohol abuse.

Death

After spending some time with the Potawatomi people in Kansas, the Jesuits saw that St Rose Philippine Duchesne could not cope with the rigorous demands of the routine there. She returned to her original home in St Charles where she spent her last 10 years.

She died there at the age of 83 years on November 18 1852.

Relics

St Rose Philippine Duchesne was initially buried at the convent cemetery but was later exhumed and buried on June 13 1953 in a crypt in a shrine within the convent’s land.

Beatification

St Rose Philippine Duchesne was declared Venerable by Pope Pius X in 1909. Pope Pius XII beatified her in 1940. 

Canonization

St Rose Philippine Duchesne was canonized by Pope John Paul II on July 3 1988 in Vatican City.

St Rose Philippine Duchesne Feast Day

We celebrate her feast day on November 18 every year in the Catholic Church.

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