St. Rose Philippine Duchesne
Feast Day: November 18
Born: 1769 :: Died: 1852
Rose was born at Grenoble in France. Her family was very wealthy and had strong political connections. From the time she was eight years old, she had a wish to spread the good news about Jesus in the Americas after hearing a Jesuit missionary talk about his work there.
She was educated at home until she was twelve and was then sent for her religious education to the convent of the Visitation in Grenoble. As a youngster, there was nothing especially holy about Rose. In fact, she often did her best to get her own way. She ordered everyone else to do what she wanted.
In school, her favorite subject was history. She later became very interested in stories about Native Americans. At the age of seventeen, Rose entered the convent. She was not allowed to take her vows when the time came, because of the French Revolution.
All the sisters were forced to leave the country closing down the convent, and Rose had to return to her family for ten years. Still she did not give up her desire to belong to Jesus. When the revolution was over, she joined the newly formed Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Mother Rose Philippine Duchesne's great desire was to be a missionary. However, she was fifty before she was sent to the United States. It was still a mission land at this time. In Mississippi, she and a small group of sisters started a free school for the children of poor families in a log cabin.
The work was hard, because of the different languages and ways of the people and Rose's English was terrible. Despite the many difficulties, Mother Duchesne never lost her youthful enthusiasm. As she grew older, she became less commanding and gentler.
Mother Duchesne was a real heroine who went through terrible journeys. She nearly died from yellow fever. She overcame all kinds of obstacles to open convents in the New World.
Then, when she was seventy-one, she resigned her position as superior. She went off to open a school among her beloved native people. The Native Americans called her the "Woman-Who-Prays-Always." She died in 1852 at the age of eighty-three.
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