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St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Rose Philippine Duchesne was born August 29, 1769 in Grenoble, France. Her mother Rose Perier was a member of a leading family and her father Pierre Francois Duchesne was a businessman, lawyer, and civic leader. Rose’s mother raised her to be devout and at age eight, she already wanted to be a missionary in the Americas. After being taught by tutors at home, she went to finish her education at the Visitation convent at age twelve. In 1788, Rose joined the Visitation nuns, without her family's permission; they were very upset, but finally gave her their consent. During the French Revolution, religious communities were forbidden and Rose's convent was closed in 1792. For the next ten years she lived as a laywoman, following the rule of her order as far as possible. She hid priests from the Revolutionaries, ministered to the sick and the poor and taught children. After the Revolution, she tried to establish a community at her old convent, but this was a struggle. In 1804, her little group joined the Society of the Sacred Heart which had been established by St. Madeline Sophie Barat. Rose made her final vows in the Society in 1805. She founded a convent of the order in Paris in 1815, and in 1818 she led a group of four other sisters as missionaries to the Louisiana Territory. She suffered a serious illness during the trip to America and experienced more suffering while traveling up the Mississippi to establish a mission at Saint Charles, Missouri. Mother Duchesne would establish six other convents in the States, these included orphanages and schools. Her English was poor and her teaching methods were French, rather than those that Americans were accustomed to, so some people opposed her. She sought to help Native Americans have a better life by trying to prevent alcohol abuse and providing them with education, and nursing. When she was 71, she worked for a year among the Pottawatomies in the Rocky Mountains, teaching young girls, but she couldn't learn the language. The natives called her "the Woman who Prays Always." For the last ten years of her life, she lived in prayerful retirement in a small shack by the convent she had founded at Saint Charles, Missouri. Mother Duchesne died November 18, 1852. She was canonized in 1988 and her feast is November 18.

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