Growing up in a prosperous French family, Philippine joined the Visitation nuns, but returned to her family during the French Revolution. In 1804 she entered the Society of the Sacred Heart.
After much preparation, she led a missionary journey to Missouri in 1818. She set up the first free school west of the Mississippi, Sacred Heart houses and novitiate, and a school for Indians. Despite frontier hardships and ill health, she persevered in her early dream of serving Native Americans.
She is the patroness of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Parish in Anthem.