Tuesday, November 18, 2008

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Happy Feast Day!

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, dear friend to the Society of the Sacred Heart's foundress, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat.

Philippine brought the Society to America in 1818, in a daring journey from Paris to New Orleans, and then up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, where she established schools and eventually was laid to rest (in St. Charles, just outside St. Louis).

I am in awe of the amazing things that Philippine did during her lifetime. She had a persistent calling to serve the Native Americans from very early in life, which she only realized when she was 72 years old and rather sick. She earned the respect of the Potawatomi, and became known as Woman Who Prays Always.

I want to share a quote from the journal of the voyage from France to New Orleans. The voyage itself was very difficult, and the ship they travelled on was threatened by storms many times. All aboard were quite seasick for much of the time.

This particular quotation was written by one of Philippine's companion sisters on the trip, after they had come to the mouth of the Mississippi.

"After that, the view was sheer delight. Poplars planted along both banks, and during the night the fireflies made a light stronger than glow-worms. We saw several crocodiles from a distance. One of a small species was caught, it was an ell in length and like a lizard with speckled black skin and toad-like paws. The cook told us it was good to eat. The voyage became more interesting from day to day. We were seeing inhabitants, ... herds of cows, charming woods."

The journal goes on to describe the various animals, people, and plants that they encounter. I can only imagine the wonder at such wildlife and wild territory, so different from their home in France.

So, Happy Feast! Philippine died in 1852, and was canonized in 1988.

1 comment:

Susan Rose, CSJP said...

I was thinking of/praying for you yesterday especially!