Handmade necklaces to honor the anniversary of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

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Sacred Heart Greenwich held a prayer service Friday to honor St. Rose Philippine Duchesne’s feast day, November 18. Each member of the Sacred Heart community received a handmade necklace as a reminder of St. Philippine’s life and work.

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne sits under an oak tree, which is a symbol of her name, with Jesus and a Native American girl. Courtesy of rscj.org

Before becoming a Religious of the Sacred Heart, St. Philippine was a member of the Visitation Order in France, which she joined September 10, 1788, at 19 years old, according to the New Catholic Encyclopedia. However, due to the French Revolution, the nuns left the order and returned to their homes in 1792.
Almost 15 years later, St. Philippine led a convent in France, but was unsuccessful in her attempts to reunite the Visitation Order. After her efforts to reunite the order failed, she joined St. Madeleine Sophie Barat’s order, the Society of the Sacred Heart, in 1804.
St. Madeleine Sophie transferred St. Philippine from France to the United States 14 years later. She came to New Orleans May 29, 1818. Thus, this school year is the 200th anniversary of her arrival.
Later that same year, she founded the first Society of the Sacred Heart school in the United States in St. Charles, Missouri. In 1841, she moved to Sugar Creek, Kansas, to establish a school for Native American girls of the Potawatomi tribe, according to rscj.org.
Although she founded the Kansas school, St. Philippine was unable to teach as she could never learn the Potawatomi language, Algonquian. Instead, she spent her time nursing the sick and praying, earning a nickname from the Potawatomi, “Quah-kah-ka-num-ad,” or “Woman who prays always.”
Director of Upper School Campus Ministry Mrs. Maureen Considine commented on St. Philippine’s character and impact on the Sacred Heart community.
“Philippine was strong, courageous, and resilient. All of these characteristics were grounded in her deep faith and her knowledge that Christ was with her: in every trial, in every challenge,” Mrs. Considine said. “This enabled her to go to places that she knew nothing about and to learn about new peoples, new cultures, and new ways to think. We strive to impart her values and her faith to all our Sacred Heart students.”
To commemorate the life and labor of St. Philippine, members of the Sacred Heart Greenwich community worked for the past six months to make over 1,400 necklaces for all students, faculty, and staff. Sacred Heart Lower, Middle, and Upper School art teachers and students created these necklaces, stamping, glazing, and stringing acorn pendants onto leather cords.
Upper, Middle, and Lower School art students stamped acorn symbols into clay to form the pendants. Mae Harkins ’20

Upper School art teacher, Mrs. Paula Westcott, said the necklaces incorporate multiple meaningful symbols in a single object. The pendants’ reddish brown clay and green glaze relate to St. Philippine’s love for nature. The pendants feature acorns to symbolize St. Rose Philippine Duchesne because “du chêne” means “of oak” in French.
Students used molds to stamp acorns on the front of the pendants, and molds to stamp an open heart, which is the Society of the Sacred Heart’s emblem, and the number 200 on the back of the pendants. The pendants hang on leather cords to reflect St. Philippine’s love for the Native Americans she worked with because it was a material they often used.
Freshman Hadley Noonan enjoyed making the necklaces in her art class, reflecting that it made her feel more connected to St. Philippine and the history of Sacred Heart.
This is such a big part of Sacred Heart history, and we all get to have a little part in it, making sure that everyone has something that they can take home after it,“ Hadley said.
– Mae Harkins, Staff Writer