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.
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.