Getting to Know Philippine
Rose Philippine Duchesne was born August 29, 1769 in Grenoble, an ancient city, France’s beautiful archway to the Alps. One of eight children in a family of privilege, she was strong-willed, impetuous and generous. Educated by the Visitation nuns at Ste Marie d’en Haut monastery, she was drawn to their life of contemplation.
Philippine saw a chance to turn her missionary dreams to reality when Bishop William Du Bourg visited the Society motherhouse in Paris. He had come from the United States to recruit nuns to establish schools for the Indians and French children in his diocese of Louisiana.
The Society soon attracted new vocations and opened a novitiate. Before long, Philippine was responsible for five convents: St. Charles (which reopened in 1828), St. Louis and Florissant in Missouri, and Grand Coteau and St. Michaels in Louisiana. While Philippine adapted to the American culture, she preserved the ways of the Society as much as possible.
Philippine once wrote to Sophie, “I carry in my heart a great fear of spoiling things wherever I may be, and this because of some words I think I heard in the depths of my heart: ‘You are destined to please me not so much by successes as by failure.’” She did indeed experience many failures, but because of her missionary spirit, the Society of the Sacred Heart spread around the world.