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Saint Rose Philippine "Mother Duchesne" Duchesne
Birth: Aug. 29, 1769
Departement de l'Isère
Rhône-Alpes, France
Death: Nov. 18, 1852
Saint Charles
St. Charles County
Missouri, USA

Educator, Roman Catholic Saint. Along with the foundress Madeleine-Sophie Barat, she was a prominent early member of the Religious Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and founded the congregation's first communities in the US. Born the second of seven daughters, her father was a prominent lawyer during the Day of the Tiles that occurred in Grenoble, France, which was among the first of the revolts that preceded the French Revolution, and is credited by most historians as the start of it. Her mother was the sister of Claude Perier, an industrialist who later helped finance the rise to power of Napoleon. During her childhood she survived a bout of smallpox which left her slightly scarred. In 1781 she was sent to be educated in the Monastery of Sainte-Marie-d'en-Haut (known for the social status of its members), located on a mountainside near Grenoble, by the community of Visitandine nuns. After showing a strong attraction to the monastic life, her father withdrew her from the monastery school the following year and had her tutored with her cousins in the family home. In 1788 she made the decision to entered the Visitation of Holy Mary religious order, despite her family's opposition. In 1792 the French revolutionaries shut down the monastery, during the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, and dispersed the nuns. She returned to her family where she lived at their country home, along with two aunts, who had been Visitandines at Romans-sur-Isère. She attempted to continue living the Rule of Life of her Order, while serving her family and those suffering from the Reign of Terror, including those imprisoned at the former monastery. In 1801, after Napoleon seized power, she attempted to re-establish the Visitation monastery, acquiring the buildings from its new owner. The buildings were in shambles, having been used as a military barracks and prison. Though a few of the nuns and the Mother Superior did return temporarily, the nuns found that the austere living conditions was too much for them in their advanced years. She then became the Mother Superior of the house and was left with only three companions. During this time, in northern France, Madeleine-Sophie Barat was founding the new Society of the Sacred Heart and wanted to establish a new foundation in Grenoble. In 1804 she met Barat and accepted her offer to merge the Visitation community into the Society of the Sacred Heart. The new congregation had a similar religious mission as that of the Visitandines, that of educating young women, but without being an enclosed religious order. The two women became immediate and lifelong friends. In 1815, after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, she followed Barat's instructions and established a Convent of the Sacred Heart in Paris, France. In 1817 William Dubourg, Society of Saint-Sulpice, Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana and the Two Floridas, visited the convent in Paris, looking for a congregation of educators to help him evangelize the Native American and French children of his diocese. After meeting him, she immediately felt her old desire for missionary service revive and requested permission from Barat to serve in the bishop's diocese. In 1818, with Barat's blessing, she left for the US with four other Sisters of the Society. After ten weeks at sea, they arrived in New Orleans. To their shock, however, the bishop had made no provisions for housing them. After they had rested briefly with the Ursuline nuns, they took advantage of the newly established steamboat service up the Mississippi River to travel to St. Louis, and finally settled in St. Charles, in what was then the Missouri Territory. There, she established a new Sacred Heart convent in a log cabin, known as the Duquette Mansion, the first house of the Society ever built outside of France, the first in St. Charles County, Missouri, and the first free school west of the Mississippi River. The following year she moved the community across the river to the town of Florissant, Missouri, where they opened a school and a novitiate. Their new foundation faced many struggles, including lack of funds, inadequate housing, hunger and very cold weather, and the Sisters struggled to learn English. By 1828, the Society's first five members in America had grown to six communities, operating several schools. Other foundations in Louisiana soon followed, at Grand Coteau, near Opelousas, at Natchitoches, at Baton Rouge, at New Orleans, and at Convent, Louisiana. In 1826 Pope Leo XII, through a decretum laudis, formally approved the Society of the Sacred Heart, recognizing their work. The Jesuits acquired the Sisters' former school property in St. Charles in 1828, where they built a parish church, and asked the Sisters to return to that same log cabin where they had lived, and conduct the parish school. In 1841 the Jesuits asked the Sisters to join them in a new mission with the Potawatomi tribe in eastern Kansas, along Sugar Creek. Unable to master their language, she was not able to teach and she would spend long periods in prayer. The Potawatomi children named her Quahkahkanumad, which translates as Woman Who Prays Always. In 1842, after a year among the Potawatomi, her health could no longer sustain the regime of village life and she returned to St Charles. She spent the last decade of her life living there in a tiny room under a stairway near the chapel. Toward the end of her life, she was very lonely, going blind, feeble, and yearned for letters from Mother Barat. She died at the age of 83. Initially buried in the convent cemetery, her remains were exhumed three years later and found to be intact. She was then reburied in a crypt within a small shrine on the convent grounds. She was beatified by Pope Pius XII on May 12, 1940, and canonized by Pope John Paul II on July 3, 1988 by the Roman Catholic Church. Her feast day is November 18. (bio by: William Bjornstad) 
Memorial Shrine of Philippine Duchesne *
Saint Charles
St. Charles County
Missouri, USA
*Former burial location
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jan 01, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 301
Saint Rose Philippine Mother Duchesne Duchesne
Added by: Connie Nisinger
Saint Rose Philippine Mother Duchesne Duchesne
Added by: Connie Nisinger
Saint Rose Philippine Mother Duchesne Duchesne
Added by: Connie Nisinger
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Please visit St. Duchesne's other memorial (#9395)also.
- Dolores J. Rush
 Added: Apr. 18, 2017

 Added: Nov. 18, 2016

- Donna
 Added: Oct. 13, 2016
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