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Rose Philippine Duchesne

Born: Grenoble, France, August 29, 1769
Died: St. Charles, Missouri, November 18, 1852

Baptized in the Church of St. Louis, Rose Philippine Duchesne was named for Philip, the apostle, and Rose of Lima, first saint of the new continent. She was educated at the Convent of the Visitation of Sainte Marie d'en Haut. She became a novice there at the age of 18.

During the revolution in France, she returned to Grenoble and helped nurse prisoners and others who were suffering. In 1804 Philippine Duchesne joined a new congregation, the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She experienced a dream in which she was a missionary, and shared that with the the head of her congregation, Mother Madeleine Sophie Barat. "I spent the entire night in the new World ... carrying the Blessed Sacrament to all parts of the land ... I had all my sacrifices to offer: a mother, sisters, family, my mountain! When you say to me 'now I send you', I will respond quickly 'I go"'.

It was not until 1818 that Philippine Duchesne's dream would become reality. The bishop of the Louisiana territory wanted a congregation of educators to help him evangelize American Indian and French children in his diocese. At St. Charles, near St. Louis, Missouri, Philippine Duchesne founded the first house of the Society outside France. Life in the log cabin was primitive, the winters cold, the work hard, too few funds, and communication in English was difficult.

By 1828 Philippine Duchesne had founded six schools for the young women of Missouri and Louisiana. Here dream still was to serve American Indians. At the age of 72, when she was no longer a superior, a school for the Potawatomi was opened at Sugar Creek, Kansas. The Jesuit head of the mission asked for her. "She must come; she may not be able to do much work, but she will assure success to the mission by praying for us. Her very presence will draw down all manner of heavenly favors on the work".

Philippine Duchesne spent one year with the Potawatomi. The Indian people at the mission called her, Quah-kah-ka-num-ad, "Woman-Who-Prays-Always". When her health failed, she returned to St. Charles. "I feel the same longing for the Rocky Mountain missions and any others like them, that I experienced in France when I first begged to come to America." She died at St. Charles, Missouri on November 18, 1852. She was canonized on July 3, 1988, by Pope John Paul II.

Entry: Duchesne, Rose Philippine

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: April 2011

Date Modified: April 2011

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.