On November 18, we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne. We remember her deep connection to the Potawatomi Indians, whom she lived with in 1841 when she was 72 years old. She spent much of her time in prayer, gaining the name “Woman Who Prays Always.” After just one year, she was called back to St. Charles because of her health. Although she was in Sugar Creek, Kansas, just a short time, she made a lasting impression on the Potawatomi.
Prayer of the Potawatomi
(on hearing of the death of Philippine)
She comes, Great Spirit,
She comes soon.
Comfort her spirit and care for her passage.
Let the grasses of the fields whisper her homecoming.
Let the lapping of the Mississippi’s water
Change her back to you.
Put out your colors this morning in all four season’s flowers.
Let them bloom all at once in her honor.
Let the mockingbird, known for cleverness,
Imitate all manner of songs, one for each mood of our hearts.
For we are sad; she was our sister.
We are glad, too; she is your child.
We are sorry; too many miles prevent our putting out this blanket
Once more, over her shoulders.
(She learned weaving from our hands;
we learned to pray from her face.)
Let the sun blaze forth her compassion.
And the full moon tonight remind us
Of her hours praising you in this tent.
Our village will keep vigil tonight.
Chief declares a fast in her name until tomorrow.
We will pray in what was her tent
For both our peoples, and for all those places
On the flat map which she left for us.
Creator, hear our prayer for her, for our children.
For those prairies, trees, and rivers,
For the faraway mountains and this brook which holds our tears.
Hear our sighs for these, our children.
That they remember what she taught them
And recall her name, for many moons, as your great woman.
~ Poem: Sharon Karam, RSCJ
~ Image:St. Rose Philippine Duchesne stained glass window at Sacred Heart Parish in Mound City, Kansas
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne died on November 18, 1852, at the age of 83. She is interred in a shrine built in her honor at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, Missouri. She was beatified in 1940 and canonized July 3, 1988.