The Shrine of St. Philippine Duchesne in St. Charles, Missouri is a lasting tribute to the French missionary Religious of the Sacred Heart who brought formalized education and a zeal for sharing the love of God to the Missouri frontier in 1818. Her little school for girls was the foundation of:
- the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles,
- the Province of the Society of the Sacred Heart in North America,
- Sacred Heart education in what is now known as the Network of Sacred Heart Schools in the United States and Canada,
- Catholic education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis,
- education of any kind in St. Charles County.
St. Philippine’s burning desire to serve God and to bring God’s love to Native Americans fueled her resolve for nearly 35 years as she opened schools in Missouri and Louisiana, established a novitiate, ministered to the Potawatomi Indians in Kansas, and prayed. She prayed without ceasing, prompting the Potawatomi to call her “the woman who prays always.”
We invite you to learn more about the Shrine and the saint who inspired it, and hope you will plan a visit soon to this sacred place.
The Society of the Sacred Heart and the Academy of the Sacred Heart are joyfully preparing to celebrate 200 years of Sacred Heart education in America. The Shrine looks forward to welcoming visitors from around the world, to see the place where Philippine has been laid to rest and is memorialized. A slate of bicentennial events is in place; learn more at rscj.org/bicentennial2018.
As part of the five-year plan undertaken by the Alumni Association in anticipation of the Bicentennial in 2018, one of the needs identified by the administration (and certainly by the Shrine Director) was a way to accommodate pilgrims who arrive at a time when no volunteer docent is on duty.
The two walls adjacent to the west door of the Shrine have now been mounted with educational information (both visual and audio) that serves as a self-conducted tour opportunity. The south half of this display “travels” with the reader from France to New Orleans, to St. Louis, St. Charles, Florissant, and Kansas, returning to this house for the last ten years and death of Mother Duchesne. The north wall tells of her several burial places (culminating in the Shrine), names prelates in the Church who honored her, and declares the impact that her missionary endeavor had on the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Other enhancements rendered by this much-needed project include: better lighting and an attractive log cabin image in the niche that houses St. Philippine’s primitive chair and footwarmer, better lighting and signage around the sarcophagus, and better lighting of the large banner which hung in front of St. Peter’s Basilica the morning of the canonization in 1988. A committee of Religious of the Sacred Heart and lay personnel of the school worked for two years with Peter Drochelman, of The Drochelman Group, to achieve this desired outcome.
The Shrine is open every day from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. All are welcome to come for private prayer. To schedule a tour it is best to call the Shrine Director at (636) 946-6127. New entrances to the campus on Second, Clark or Fourth Streets will lead visitors to the Shrine parking area, which is clearly marked.
The Teaching Witness of St. Rose Philippine Duchense
The National Catholic Register published a story about St. Philippine Duchesne in its January 25, 2015 edition: The Teaching Witness of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.