Le Petit Musée and Shrine of St. John Berchmans
Le Petit Musée is a museum dedicated to the history of the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, a Catholic school for girls founded by the Religious of the Sacred Heart in 1821. The museum contains artifacts and photographs of student and religious life throughout the school's 200 year history. The Shrine commemorates the site of the miracle attributed to Saint John Berchmans in 1866 which led to his canonization.
The museum and shrine are found in the main building of the Academy of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic school for girls founded in 1821.
The Shrine of St. John Berchmans is the site of the original infirmary where novice, Mary Wilson, was cured in 1866. Her miraculous recovery was attributed to Blessed John Berchmans, thus resulting in his canonization in 1888.
The museum contains photographs and artifacts of student and religious life at the Academy since 1821.
The school has been in continuous operation for 200 years and counting.
The original quarters for the enslaved persons, built circa 1834, are still in existence. Accompanying them is a plaque listing the known names of the individuals and families who resided there.
This desk was constructed for use by St. Philippine Duchesne who traveled from Missouri in 1822 to check on the progress of the mission and to see for herself the conditions under which the Sisters were laboring. It was used by various superiors in the years following her visit.
Backstory and Context
Le Petit Musée is a museum dedicated to the history of the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. In 1821, Saint Philippine Duchesne sent Sisters Eugenie Aude and Mary Layton to Grand Coteau to begin a school for young girls. Beginning in an unfurnished house on land donated to the religious order by Mary Sentee Smith, the school opened in October with just five students. Through hardships, natural disasters, disease and civil war, the school has persevered, grown and flourished. The museum tells the story of the pioneering spirit of the foundresses and explores the early life at the Academy for the students, the religious, and the enslaved persons without whom it would have been impossible for the school to exist.
The Shrine of Saint John Berchmans sits on the site of the 1866 miraculous cure of a Religious of the Sacred Heart. As a novice, Mary Wilson was sent to Grand Coteau in the hopes that a milder climate would improve her poor health. However, her health continued to deteriorate, and she was confined to the infirmary the month after her arrival. Hopeful, yet anticipating Mary’s death any day, the religious offered a novena to Blessed John Berchmans. Mary’s testimony describes an apparition of John Berchmans followed by immediate relief from her pain and her subsequent recovery. The Catholic Church investigated this cure, and it was used in the canonization process of Saint John Berchmans in 1888. The infirmary, where this miracle occurred, is now the Shrine of Saint John Berchmans, a peaceful place of devotion and pilgrimage.