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.


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