St. Philippine Duchesne

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St. Philippine Duchesne

Rose Philippine Duchesne was born in 1769 in Grenoble, France. Against her parents’ wishes, she entered the convent at age 19. During the French Revolution, the convent closed, so she cared for the poor and sick. After the war, she joined the Society of the Sacred Heart.

Philippine grew up listening to stories about missionaries in America. It became her lifelong dream to go to America and work with the Native Americans. In 1818, at age 49, she traveled to America. She landed in New Orleans, where the bishop sent her up the Mississippi River to St. Louis and the nearby colony of St. Charles, Missouri. There she founded a school for girls. Cold and hunger forced her to leave St. Charles. Then she founded the first Catholic school for Native Americans in Florissant, Missouri. She created several schools and houses for her nuns in the United States.

She was 72 when a mission was founded at Sugar Creek, Kansas, with Native Americans. Although she was retired and in ill health, she was invited along. Since she never was able to learn the language, she spent her days in prayer. Other missionaries taught the people. She became known as “Woman-Who-Prays-Always.” She died in 1852 at age 83.


St. Hugh

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St. Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, Confessor

THE FOUNDATIONS of an interior life are most safely laid in holy solitude which is the best preparation for the functions of the active life, and the support of a spirit of piety amidst its distractions. In the desert of Chartreuse St. Hugh learned first to govern himself, and treasured up in his heart the most lively sentiments of pure and perfect virtue, the most essential qualification of a minister of Christ. He was born of a good family in Burgundy in 1140: lost his mother before he was eight years old, and was educated from that age in a convent of regular canons, situate near his father’s seat, who, after having served as an officer in the army, with great reputation for honour and piety, retired himself to the same place, and there ended his days in the exercises of a devout and penitential religious life. Hugh, being blessed with a happy genius and good natural parts, made great progress in every branch of learning to which he applied himself. A venerable ancient priest was appointed by the abbot to instruct him in his studies and in religious discipline, whose serious admonitions made a deep impression on his soul. When he was nineteen years old the abbot took the saint with him to the Chartreuse near Grenoble, on an annual visit which he was accustomed to make to that holy company. The retirement and silence of the desert, and the assiduous contemplation and saintly deportment of the monks who inhabited it, kindled in Hugh’s breast a strong desire of embracing that institute. Nor were the canons, his brethren, able to dissuade him from this resolution after his return; so that being persuaded that God called him to this state, he secretly went back to the Chartreuse, and was admitted to the habit. The interior conflicts which he sustained, served to purify his soul, and make him more fervent and watchful. Under these trials he was often refreshed with consolations and great heavenly sweetness; and, by mortification and humble continual prayer, the fiery darts of the enemy were at length extinguished. The time approaching when he was to be promoted to priest’s orders, an old father whom he served according to the custom of the Order, asked him if he was willing to be ordained priest. Hugh answered him with simplicity, out of the vehement desire he had of offering daily to God the holy victim of the altar, that there was nothing in the world he more earnestly desired. The old man fearing the danger of presumption, and a want of the great apprehension which every one is bound to have of that tremendous function, said to him with a severe countenance: “How dare you aspire to a degree, to which no one, how holy soever, is advanced, but with trembling, and by constraint?” At this rebuke, St. Hugh, struck with holy fear, fell on the ground, and begged pardon with many tears. The other moved at his humility, told him he knew the purity of his desires; and said he would be advanced not only to the priesthood, but also to the episcopal dignity. The saint had passed ten years in his private cell when the general procuratorship of the monastery was committed to him: in which weighty charge the reputation of his prudence and sanctity was spread over all France. 1 Continue reading

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus

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St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Bishop and Confessor

From his life by St. Gregory of Nyssa, Eusebius, l. 6, c. 23; St. Jerom in Catal. and the saint’s Oration to Origen; also St. Basil, l. de Spir. Soc. c. 29, ep. 62–65. See Tillemont, t. 4; Ceillier, t. 3, p. 307; Cave’s Primitive Fathers.

A.D. 270.

THEODORUS, afterwards called Gregory, and, from his extraordinary miracles, surnamed Thaumaturgus, or Worker of Wonders, was of Neocæsarea in Pontus, born of parents eminent for their rank and fortune, but engaged in the superstitions of idolatry. At fourteen years of age he lost his father, and from that time began to discover the vanity of the heathenish religion, as his reason grew more quick and manly, and was improved by education; and by this means his inclinations were insensibly turned towards the belief of the unity of the Deity and the Christian faith. 1 His mother pursued the plan, begun by his father, in giving him a literary education, with an intention of bringing him up to the bar, and the practice of oratory. In the study of rhetoric he made such surprising progress, that it was easy to foresee he would one day be one of the greatest orators of the age. He learned the Latin tongue, which was a necessary qualification for preferment to great dignities in the Roman empire: his masters also persuaded him to study the Roman laws, an acquaintance with which they said would be a great advantage to him in whatever profession he should afterwards embark. His sister being married to the assessor, or assistant of the governor of Cæsarea in Palestine, she was conducted thither at the public charge, with such as she was disposed to take with her. Gregory accompanied her upon this occasion with his brother Athenodorus, who was afterwards a bishop, and suffered much for the faith of Jesus Christ. From Cæsarea the two brothers went to Berytus, to attend a famous school of the Roman law in that neighbourhood. After a short stay there they returned to Cæsarea. 1 Continue reading