Rose-Philippine Duchesne was born in France in 1769. As a child she showed signs of knowing her own mind very well, and displayed this tendency as a fully-formed, strong-willed girl when she joined the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary despite family opposition. The anti-aristocracy, anti-Catholic French Revolution had just broken out, but she willingly shared the persecutions of her order.
The French government suppressed the Visitation Nuns in 1791, however, forcing the community to break up and return to their homes. Rose went back to her family—but she didn’t let the government silence her vocation. She immediately set about gathering and organizing a new community of sisters. By 1804, she and her community were able to join the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, newly founded by St. Madeleine Sophie Barat.
In 1818 she embarked on a lifelong dream: missionary work in the United States. Settling down in St. Charles, Missouri, she established the first Society of the Sacred Heart in the States, along with a school for girls. By the time she was seventy-one years old, she had established six more mission stations, worked among the Native Americans as far as the Rockies, and founded a school for Indians in Kansas.
She didn’t stop there. She went to help Father Pierre-Jean de Smet in his missions in Indian Territory. The Indians, who took note of her piety, named her Quahkahkanumad, which means “Woman-who-prays-always.” Finally, after thirty-four years of intense missionary work, she returned to St. Charles, and there passed into heaven in 1852.
Thanks to missionaries like Rose-Philippine Duchesne, America is brimming with holy places in every state—some hidden, some famous. There are so many it’s hard to find them all, but now you can learn all about them in one spot! Author Marion Amberg invites you on a journey through the States in her engaging work Monuments, Marvels, And Miracles: A Traveler’s Guide To Catholic America. In these pages you’ll find the miraculous, inspiring, and sometimes harrowing tales of over 500 shrines and holy sites throughout the U.S. Includes trivia and beautiful photos! Available today at The Catholic Company!