Rose was born on August 29, 1769, in Grenoble, France, the daughter of a wealthy merchant. She was educated by the Visitation nuns of Sainte Marie d’en Haut. When she was seventeen, despite the objections of her parents, who wanted her to marry, she left home and joined the Visitation nuns. When the nuns were expelled from France during the Reign of Terror in 1791, Rose returned home. There she took care of the sick, and visited priest-prisoners of the revolution.
After the concordat of 1801 between Pope Pius VII and Napoleon, Rose attempted to rebuild the convent where she had been educated, but was unsuccessful. In 1804, however, she succeeded in persuading Mother Madeleine Sophie Barat to accept it for her recently founded Society of the Sacred Heart. With four others, Rose became a postulant of the Society and was professed the following year.
In 1818, she was sent as superior with four nuns to the US and founded the first American Sacred Heart house — a log cabin in Missouri. These women started the first free school west of the Mississippi. Despite numerous difficulties, the community flourished, and by 1828, it had six houses along the Mississippi River. At the request of Jesuit Father De Smet, at the age of seventy-one, Rose began a school for Indians in Sugar Creek, Kansas. Among the Indians she came to be known as “the woman who is always praying.” A year after starting this school, her health began to fail and she returned to St. Charles where she died on October 18, 1852.
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Lessons from Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne on Page 2
Lessons from Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne
The biographers of St. Rose stress her courage in frontier conditions and her zeal in pursuing her dream of serving Native Americans. It was Rose’s desire to do God’s will that got her through the terrible hardships that she had to endure to accomplish all that she did. Rose serves as a good example that “all things are possible with God.”
Heavenly Father, we thank you for Saint Rose and her example to us in perseverance. She overcame not only spiritual hardships but physical ones as well. Help us to be ever mindful that if we only give our willingness, You will give us the power to succeed. Amen.