Feast day: November 18
Sister Rose’s Visitation monastery was disbanded by the French Revolution. When religious freedom returned to France, Sister Rose Duchesne tried to revive her religious life, but with only four nuns left in the ruined monastery, it was very difficult. Then she met Mother Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart. The small Visitation group joined Mother Barat’s new community.
Eventually, Mother Duchesne was sent to the French territory of Louisiana as a missionary. She dreamed of helping Native Americans but instead was sent to found a school for girls at St. Charles, Missouri, near St. Louis. She called this village, “the remotest village in the United States.” Mother Duchesne and her companions endured all the hardships of pioneer life. But her school, founded in 1818, was the first free school for girls west of the Mississippi. This school, now co-ed, still exists in the now not-so-remote village of St. Charles, now a suburb of St. Louis.
Finally, at age 72, Mother Duchesne was finally given her chance to work among Native Americans. She went to Sugar Creek, Kansas, with a Jesuit mission to serve the Potawatomi. Although she was unable to learn their language, she became known for her unceasing prayer. The people called her “Woman Who Prays Always.” Her last days were spent at her convent in St. Charles, in a small room still preserved there, along with a life-size reproduction of the log cabin that was her first home in Missouri.
(Image in public domain-70)