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 Saints of the Season Holiday Season 2017
Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne (1769–1852) November 18
Rose Philippine (FIL-lih-peen) Duchesne (doo-SHAYN) was born in 1769 to prosperous parents in Grenoble, France, a city on the edge of the French Alps. Not only were her parents wealthy enough to give her a comfortable home, they also cared about education. In fact, Rose received a good education in an age when most people thought women did not need to be educated. In addition, Rose knew from an early age that she wanted to be a nun.
Rose’s parents did not approve of their daughter’s plan to be a nun. And, when the French Revolution broke out, they thought their problem with Rose would be over. The French government outlawed priests and closed convents all over the country. Rose had to leave the convent, but she didn’t have to stop acting like a nun. Instead of giving in and getting married as her parents wanted, Rose continued her works of charity for her townspeople. At home, she carried on an intense prayer life.
  After the revolution, Rose joined the Society of the Sacred Heart, a missionary order of sisters devoted to education. In 1818, Rose and four other sisters received permission to go to America. The harrowing journey from France to New Orleans took more than two months. Next, Rose and the sisters traveled up the Mississippi to St. Louis, then a small town of 6,000. From there, they journeyed up the Missouri River to St. Charles, where they established the  rst free girls’ school west of the Mississippi.
Life was hard for Rose and the other sisters. In addition to learning enough English to teach the girls, there was hard physical work to do—gardening, cutting wood, taking care of livestock, cleaning out barns, building  res, and making repairs. All these responsibilities took time, and yet Rose maintained a strict prayer life.
Mosaic in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis
When Rose was 71, she joined a group of sisters who were going to Kansas to teach
children of the Potowatami Tribe. These Native Americans loved her and referred to her as the “good old lady.” They noticed that before they went to bed, they would see Rose kneeling at prayer in the chapel. When they awoke in the morning, they would see her in the same place. Puzzled, they decided to discover if she had been praying all night. One evening, they sneaked quietly into the chapel and laid a few feathers on the hem of her habit. In the morning, they saw that the feathers had not been disturbed. From that time on, they called Rose “Woman-Who-Always-Prays.”
In her long life, Rose accepted di cult journeys, sickness, and hard work to bring education and the message of God’s love to children on the American frontier. She and the sisters spread their belief that education is not only for the privileged and that girls deserve an education equal to that of boys. Bad health forced Rose to go back to St. Charles, where she died at the age of 83.
       A Service of
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