St Rose P Duchesne healing oil
The St Rose P Duchesne healing oil is dedicated to the French missionary and educator.
Rose Philippine Duchesne (1769 –1852), was a French religious sister and educator. She was a prominent early member of the Religious Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Rose founded the congregation’s first communities in the United States. She spent the last half of her life teaching and serving the people of the Midwestern United States.
Rose Duchesne was born in Grenoble, then the capital of the ancient Province of the Dauphiné in the Kingdom of France. She was the second of seven daughters, along with one son.
In 1788 she made the decision to enter the Visitation of Holy Mary religious order, despite her family’s opposition. She convinced an aunt to accompany her on a visit to the monastery. There she immediately requested admission, leaving her aunt to return home without her. The aunt had to tell her father what happened.
In 1792, however, revolutionaries shut down the monastery. It was during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, and the nuns were dispersed. Duchesne returned to her family where she lived at their country home, along with two aunts. She attempted to continue living the Rule of Life of her Order, while serving her family and those suffering from the Reign of Terror. Also, she helped those imprisoned at the former monastery.
In 1801 Duchesne attempted to re-establish the Visitation monastery, acquiring the buildings from its new owner. The nuns found that the austere living conditions was too much for them in their advanced years. Eventually Duchesne was left with only three companions.
Society of the Sacred Heart
Madeleine-Sophie Barat was founding the new Society of the Sacred Heart. She wanted to establish a new foundation in Grenoble. Encouraged by her mentor, the Jesuit priest, Joseph Varin, to meet Duchesne, in 1804 she traveled there. Duchesne accepted Barat’s offer to merge the Visitation community into the Society of the Sacred Heart. The new congregation had a similar religious mission as that of the Visitandines. They educated young women, but without being an enclosed religious order. The two women became immediate and lifelong friends.
In 1815, after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Duchesne followed Barat’s instructions and established a Convent of the Sacred Heart in Paris, where she both opened a school and became the Mistress of novices.
Missionary in America
In 1818, with Barat’s blessing, Duchesne headed out to the United States with four other Sisters of the Society. After ten weeks at sea, they arrived in New Orleans. To their shock, however, the bishop had made no provisions for housing them. She travelled by steamboat to St Charles. Missouri. She was later to describe the location as “the remotest village in the U.S.”.
The Sisters struggled to learn English. By 1828, the Society’s first five members in America had grown to six communities, operating several schools. Other foundations in Louisiana followed.
In 1841 the Jesuits asked the Sisters to join them in a new mission with the Potawatomi tribe in eastern Kansas, along Sugar Creek. At age seventy-one, she was not among those initially selected for the trip. Father Verhaegen insisted, “She may not be able to do much work, but she will assure success to the mission by praying for us.” Since Rose was unable to master their language, she was not able to teach, so she would spend long periods in prayer. The children named her Quahkahkanumad, which translates as Woman Who Prays Always. Inspired by stories about the famed Jesuit Pierre-Jean De Smet, she became determined to continue on and help Native Americans as far as the Rocky Mountains.
Death/St Rose Duchense healing oil
In 1842, after a year among the Potawatomi, it was clear that Duchesne’s health could not sustain the regime of village life and she returned to St Charles. She spent the last decade of her life living there in a tiny room under a stairway near the chapel. Toward the end of her life, she was alone, going blind, feeble, and yearned for letters from Mother Barat. She died on November 18, 1852, aged 83.
Initially buried in the convent cemetery, St. Rose’s remains were exhumed three years later and found to be incorrupt. . She was then reburied in a crypt within a small shrine on the convent grounds. The cause for Duchesne’s canonisation was introduced in 1895. She was declared Venerable in 1909 by Pope Pius X and was beatified by Pope Pius XII in 1940. Pope John Paul II canonized her on July 3, 1988.
St Rose Duchesne healing oil/Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.