Shrine of St Rose Philippine Duchesne

Shrine of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, 619 N 2nd St, St Charles, Misuri, Združene države Amerike

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Daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Shrine of St Rose Philippine Duchesne 

The Shrine of St Rose Philippine Duchesne  in St. Charles, Missouri is a lasting tribute to the French missionary Religious of the Sacred Heart who brought formalized education and a zeal for sharing the love of God to the Missouri frontier in 1818. Her little school for girls was the foundation of:

  • The Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles,
  • The Province of the Society of the Sacred Heart in North America,
  • Sacred Heart education in what is now known as the Network of Sacred Heart Schools in the United States and Canada,
  • Catholic education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis,
  • Education of any kind in St. Charles County.

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St Rose Philippine Duchesne

Long before she set foot on American soil in 1818, Rose Philippine Duchesne dreamed of coming to the New World and teaching the Indians. Born in 1769 in Grenoble, France, she had grown up in a loving family whose political alliances made them prominent in the pre-Revolutionary turmoil that was welling up around them.

As a young child she was sent to the Visitation Convent in her city; but it was often at home or in her parish church that she would hear missionary priests describe their recent adventures far across the ocean. Teaching the savages whom they described was a work that captured her heart!

Philippine’s decision to enter religious life was not welcomed by her father, who terminated her attendance at the Ste. Marie d’en Haute when he heard of her plans. When she was a little older she climbed the hill on the outskirts of Grenoble and announced to her aunt that this time she was staying with the Visitandines.

And so she did for several years—until the outbreak of the war, when religious houses all over France were being closed. Obediently she returned to her home and made a docile effort to re-enter domestic life at the family’s country home but decided, in a short time, that she could be more effective working for the many poor, homeless, sick and dying who were languishing in the city.

After the war Philippine resolved to buy back her beloved Ste. Marie, which was a shambles since it had been used as a barracks and military prison during that Reign of Terror. Her valiant attempts to bring back the nuns who had once lived there were futile.

With so much to do in order to restore the building (and with so few to help in the project), she was nearing complete failure when a new hope came into her life. Madeleine Sophie Barat, who had just established a new congregation of religious women in the northern part of France, traveled to Grenoble and invited Philippine to join her in her work of teaching young girls.

And so, at the age of 35 she was finally secure in a vocation that would carry her to her holy death.

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Long before she set foot on American soil in 1818, Rose Philippine Duchesne dreamed of coming to the New World and teaching the Indians. Born in 1769 in Grenoble, France, she had grown up in a loving family whose political alliances made them prominent in the pre-Revolutionary turmoil that was welling up around them. As a young child she was sent to the Visitation Convent in her city; but it was often at home or in her parish church that she would hear missionary priests describe their recent adventures far across the ocean. Teaching the savages whom they described was a work that captured her heart!

Philippine’s decision to enter religious life was not welcomed by her father, who terminated her attendance at the Ste. Marie d’en Haute when he heard of her plans. When she was a little older she climbed the hill on the outskirts of Grenoble and announced to her aunt that this time she was staying with the Visitandines. And so she did for several years—until the outbreak of the war, when religious houses all over France were being closed. Obediently she returned to her home and made a docile effort to re-enter domestic life at the family’s country home but decided, in a short time, that she could be more effective working for the many poor, homeless, sick and dying who were languishing in the city.

After the war Philippine resolved to buy back her beloved Ste. Marie, which was a shambles since it had been used as a barracks and military prison during that Reign of Terror. Her valiant attempts to bring back the nuns who had once lived there were futile. With so much to do in order to restore the building (and with so few to help in the project), she was nearing complete failure when a new hope came into her life. Madeleine Sophie Barat, who had just established a new congregation of religious women in the northern part of France, traveled to Grenoble and invited Philippine to join her in her work of teaching young girls. And so, at the age of 35 she was finally secure in a vocation that would carry her to her holy death.

Although she was fulfilled in her various activities in Sacred Heart convents in France for the next 13 years, Philippine never abandoned her dream of the mission that she had adopted as a young child—to go to America and teach the Indians. And so, when Bishop William DuBourg visited the convent in Paris in 1817, Philippine implored Mother Barat to grant her the permission that she so craved. (Bishop DuBourg’s diocese was nearly all of the Louisiana Territory, so Indians were only one of the challenges that he faced.) Permission was granted, and a year later she and four religious companions began the journey to their missionary destiny. A 70-day voyage across the Atlantic brought the five nuns to New Orleans, where they rested briefly with the Ursulines before resuming their travels in a paddlewheel steamer up the Mississippi to St. Louis.

The Bishop knew that they were coming but had no house in the city to accommodate the five nuns. A log cabin in St. Charles became the site of the first free school west of the Mississippi. That first year saw three little St. Louis girls come as boarders and 21 non-paying day students who came when they could during that long, bitter winter. The following summer the Bishop took the Religious of the Sacred Heart to Florissant, a village on the other side of the Missouri River, where they conducted their school and Mother Duchesne established her novitiate for the Society.

In 1828 the Jesuits built a parish church on the former (and present) school property and asked the Sacred Heart nuns to return to St. Charles—to that same log cabin which was known as the “Duquette Mansion” because it was the biggest house in town—and conduct the parish school. They did so and finally, in 1835, built their first brick building, which remains the center of the Academy of the Sacred Heart’s sprawling complex.

Mother Duchesne established other schools in Louisiana and Missouri. She was finally allowed to travel to Kansas at the age of 72 and made a very frustrating attempt at teaching the Indians. The Pottawatomi language proved even harder for her than English had been and so her superiors decided, after one year, that she should return to a more comfortable life in St. Charles. The lesson that she had taught the native Americans was a valuable one; the Indians called her Quakahkanumad (woman who prays always) and revered her for her deep devotion to “the Great Spirit.”

Philippine Duchesne spent the last ten years of her life at the Academy in St. Charles, where she died on Nov. 18, 1852. Her cause for canonization was introduced in 1895; she was declared “Venerable” in 1909 and “Blessed” in 1940. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1988.

Because the French word for “oak” is chêne (and because du chêne means “of oak”), symbols of oak leaves and acorns are often seen in Sacred Heart schools in America to recall the name of the woman who pioneered Sacred Heart education in the New World. It is a great honor that the Academy of the Sacred Heart was her first school, and the place where her holy remains are enshrined.

The Shrine of St. Philippine Duchesne

The Shrine of St. Philippine Duchesne in St. Charles, Missouri is a lasting tribute to the French missionary Religious of the Sacred Heart who brought formalized education and a zeal for sharing the love of God to the Missouri frontier in 1818. Her little school for girls was the foundation of:

  • the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles,
  • the Province of the Society of the Sacred Heart in North America,
  • Sacred Heart education in what is now known as the Network of Sacred Heart Schools in the United States and Canada,
  • Catholic education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis,
  • education of any kind in St. Charles County.

St. Philippine’s burning desire to serve God and to bring God’s love to Native Americans fueled her resolve for nearly 35 years as she opened schools in Missouri and Louisiana, established a novitiate, ministered to the Potawatomi Indians in Kansas, and prayed. She prayed without ceasing, prompting the Potawatomi to call her “the woman who prays always.”

The Shrine’s interior

The Shrine’s two outside entrances represent its Roman and St. Louis connections. Pope Pius XII, who beatified Philippine, is represented with his coat of arms over the door of the Rose Garden (north) entrance; also featured is a mosaic of St. Peter and the quote, “The work of justice is peace.” The Second Street (east) entrance includes Cardinal Glennon’s coat of arms, a mosaic of St. Louis, king of France, and the quote, “I am a soldier of Christ.”

The Shrine’s modern interior was designed in 1964 by liturgical artist William Schickel. The granite used for the sanctuary furnishings reflects the hard life the pioneer saint had lived on this site. The marble sarcophagus is in an alcove facing the altar. Other features of interest include primitive relics of Philippine’s log cabin days and a crucifix that once hung in the Visitation convent in Grenoble, where she attended school as a young girl.

History of the Shrine

Following her death in 1852, Mother Duchesne was buried on the grounds of the Academy of the Sacred Heart. After three years, her body was exhumed, found to be miraculously intact, and reverently interred in a crypt within a simple octagonal shrine in the front yard of the school.

Following Philippine’s beatification in 1940, an order came from Rome decreeing that her remains be removed from the little octagonal shrine and suitably deposited indoors. This was done in 1949, at which time the remains were placed in a marble sarcophagus housed in an oratory prepared in the old “back porch” area of the original (1835) convent.

The Shrine of St. Philippine Duchesne was begun in 1951 to honor this pioneer Religious of the Sacred Heart. John J. Cardinal Glennon of St. Louis was one of the strong proponents of the building of the Shrine, which he envisioned as a basilica to honor the new Beata. However, he died in 1946 and so it was Archbishop Joseph Ritter who presided over the groundbreaking. On June 13, 1952, the sarcophagus was moved into the finished Shrine.

Initially the Shrine was a freestanding building. It was connected to the Academy when the south wing of the school was added in 1961.

The Shrine remains unfinished according to its original plan, which called for a cross-shaped building with the longest nave stretching out to the south. When funds were exhausted, however, the building was finished to its present size

Posted in North America and United States