January 23, 2018
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Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, R.S.C.J., (August 29, 1769 – November 18, 1852) was a Catholic Religious Sister and French-American saint. She spent the last half of her life teaching and serving the people of the Midwestern United States.

She was born in Grenoble, France and died in St. Charles, Missouri. Along with Saint Madeleine-Sophie Barat, she was a prominent member of the Society of the Sacred Heart. She was the founder in America of the first houses of the Society of the Sacred Heart.

She was the daughter of Pierre-Francois Duchesne, an eminent lawyer, and her mother was a Perier, ancestor of Casimir-Perier, President of France. When she was 19 years old, she joined the convent of the Visitation, which her family did not know.  She was educated by the Visitation nuns, entered that order, saw its dispersion during the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, vainly attempted the reestablishment of the convent of Ste-Marie-d'en-Haut, near Grenoble, and finally, in 1804, accepted the offer of Mother Barat to receive her community into the Society of the Sacred Heart. In 1815 St. Rose Philippine Duchesne was instructed to create a Sacred Heart House in Paris.

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

"Poverty and Christian heroism are here," she wrote, "and trials are the riches of priests in this land." Other foundations followed, at Florissant, Grand Côteau, New Orleans, St. Louis, St. Michael; and the approbation of the society in 1826 by Leo XII recognized the work being done in these parts. She enjoyed her work with these students, but truly desired to work with Native Americans. Years later, a school in Kansas was founded for the Potawatomi tribe children. At this new house, she spent much of her time taking care of sick Native Americans. The Native Americans named her Quahkahkanumad, which stood for "Woman Who Prays Always." Inspired by the stories of Father De Smet, S.J., Duchesne was determined to continue on and help students in the Rocky Mountains, but she became ill when she was about 73, and had to go back to St Charles. She lived the last ten years of her life in a room of the 1840 building that is currently protected by a gate. This location was close to the side chapel connected, at the time, to Borromeo church. She died in 1852 at the age of 83.

She was canonized on July 3, 1988, by Pope John Paul II.


Excerpt from a historical account of the Potawatomi - Rose Philippine Duchesne by Shirley Willard with adaptation from Louise Callan

Shrine at St. Ferdinand
St. Rose Philippine established the first school in Florissant.  She lived in the convent from 1819-1827 and again from 1934-1840.

     Video Tour of the Shrine at St. Ferdinand, in 14 segments, with Margaret Munch, RSCJ

      Shrine at St. Ferdinand Podcast Tour: QR code

Shrine of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne
Rose Philippine Duchesne began the first free school west of the Mississippi in 1818, now known as the Academy of the Sacred Heart.

Intrepid Philippine by Sharon Karam (pdf) (audio)

Philippine: Pioneer, Educator, Missionary by Melanie A. Guste, RSCJ (MP4 video)

The Woman Who Never Gave Up by Jeanne Kun

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne (1769-1852)

Who is Philippine for us today?
by Helen McLaughlin, RSCJ

A Dialogue with Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne
imagined by Mary Lyman, RSCJ

Failure Became Her Success by Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.

Missouri's Pioneer Nun by Patricia Rice (Taken from Journey of the Heart found at Network Resources)

Philippine Duchesne - What is She Saying to Us? by Louise Callan, RSCJ (Taken from Journey of the Heart found at Network Resources)

from the Archdiocese of St. Louis: Woman Who Prays Always

In 2013, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops named February, the month of Philippine, as part of their observance of the Year of Faith. Click here for a collection of reflections.


The Friend of Little Americans: Dedicated to All Children of the Sacred Heart (storybook and coloring)

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne: The Woman Who Prays Always

Crossword Puzzle

Word Jumbles

Heart of Oak Word Search

Books about Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

Philippine Duchesne: a woman with the poor by Catherine M. Mooney

Venerable Philippine Duchesne from Project Gutenberg

Philippine Duchesne, frontier missionary of the Sacred Heart, 1769-1852 by Louise Callan

Quotes from Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

Learn to let others do their share of the work. Things may be done less well, but you will have more peace of soul and health of body. And what temporal interest should we not sacrifice in order to gain these blessings?

.... the dear Lord has favored us with a share of His cross. The greatest and undoubtedly the hardest to bear is the lack of success in our work here. If a saint had been in charge, all would have gone well.
You may dazzle the mind with a thousand brilliant discoveries of natural science; you may open new worlds of knowledge which were never dreamed of before; yet, if you have not developed in the soul of the pupil strong habits of virtue which will sustain her in the struggle of life, you have not educated her, but only put in her hand a powerful instrument of self-destruction.
Humility is the virtue that requires the greatest amount of effort.
We cultivate a very small field for Christ but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements, but a heart that holds back nothing for self.

I am where God wills me to be, and so I have found rest and security. His wisdom governs me, His power defends me, His grace sanctifies me, His mercy encompasses me, His joy sustains me and all will go well with me. (Prayer from St. Rose Philippine Duchesne)

It fills me with joy to realize that I can lay down my life daily for God, that I can sacrifice it willingly for Him. I may not be a martyr for the faith, but I can be a martyr of charity.

Let us bear our cross and leave it to God to determine the length and the weight.

Jesus went before us on the narrow path along which He beckons us to follow Him.

Those who desire only the good pleasure of God abide in peace even in the midst of failure, for God has not told us that He requires success of us.

How very beautiful and consoling our faith is! For the little work we do here on earth it promises in return all the joys of assured happiness.

My prayers are just an outpouring of gratitude for the assurance of that most completely desired Will of God, which will seem all the more desirable in all that is ahead.

There are no difficulties except for those who worry too much about tomorrow.

Do not look back to the past, nor forward to the future. Claim only the present, for it holds God’s will.

Let us realize that we are sinners and have much to explate, while others less culpable than we are suffer more than we do.

Never forget that the road to Heaven is the Way of the Cross. Jesus has called us to follow Him, bearing the Cross as He did.

The more I reflect on the graces I have received, the more they astonish me and make me tremble.

If you have no earthly consolation, why do you not seek consolation in the Heart of Jesus? To love him is truest joy.

We may not understand His Will for us in time, but in eternity the veil will be drawn and we shall see that He acted only for our happiness.

We are entirely in the care of Divine Providence, and it is very sweet to remain so in peace. The Cross is never lacking; may it be our consolation.

For a long time a very strong and deep attraction has drawn me to missionary life.

I live now in solitude and am able to use my time reflecting on the past and preparing for death. I cannot put away the thought of the Indians and in my ambition I fly to the Rockies.

Strength of character is certainly needed to face life in the world and to stand by right principles, especially in the age in which we live.
If we love Jesus, we shall be loved in return by Him, and that is perfect happiness.

He will never let the trial surpass the strength He gives you, and at the very moment you think yourself overwhelmed by sorrow, He will lift you up and give you peace.
Love aright and you will never be sad.  Embrace God’s will and you will be filled with joy and peace.

Do not look back to the past, nor forward to the future.  Claim only the present, for it holds God’s will.

Let’s try not to be exacting with other people, but rather to pass over in silence those thousand little annoyances that tend to irritate us. For we know that no one is perfect in this life, and we must put up with the defects of others as they put up with ours.

The worst defect in the world would be to consider yourself free from faults.  Being too greatly saddened by one’s faults can come from having one’s pride humiliated.
Strengthen in us, O God, the work You have begun in us.

Profit by the little trials that come to you, for through them we make real progress.

How truly blessed we shall be if at the price of even very great sacrifices we shall have made God known and loved by one more soul!

If humility is always desirable, generous humility is still more so.

Really, it is the Lord who carries the cross, for He knows how to make the soul content with little or no consolation and always to find strength in the words..."Thy will be done."

How can we thankful? We can only love the Heart of Jesus more generously and by our union with Him, become the most humble.
Preach by example of your lives rather than by words.  Example is the very best sermon.

Let us never lose courage or despair of God’s mercy. We have only to humble ourselves before God in order to obtain grace to become all that we ought to be.

Lord, I lean on You alone for strength. Give me your arm to support me, your shoulders to carry me, your breast on which to lay my head, your Cross to uphold me, your Eucharist to nourish me. On you Lord, I shall sleep and rest in peace.

All desire but that of doing God's holy will has been extinguished in me.

God alone and the desire of His glory - nothing else matters.

He who has Jesus has everything.

I love my solitude, and I would love it still more if I had more of it.

If only I could be hidden in a corner, so as not to be tempted to worry about things that are not really my business.

What interests you most is our present condition: it is what we would have desired, thorny and difficult, but it is made easier by the unction of grace and alleviated by an all-kind Providence whose help is never withdrawn and whose protection is felt at every moment.

Prayers by Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne:

O Jesus, my Divine Saviour, I offer You my mind and heart. Direct their movements while I pray, so that I may offer my prayer in union with Your Immaculate Mother.

Jesus, I live for Thee, I labor for Thee, I desire only Thee. Thou in me and I in Thee; Thou with me and I with Thee; Thou all mine and I all Thine.

Lord, You alone are the Center in which I find rest. Give me Your arm to support me, Your shoulders to carry me, Your breast to lean upon, Your Cross to uphold me, Your Body to nourish me. In You, Lord, I sleep and rest in peace.