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Rose Prince was a Dakelh woman who has inspired an ongoing Catholic pilgrimage. Prince was born in Fort St. James in 1915, the third of Jean-Marie and Agathe Prince's nine children. Jean-Marie was descended from the great chief Kwah, while Agathe had been raised in Williams Lake by the Sisters of the Child Jesus. When the Lejac Residential School was built in 1922, Prince was sent there, along with the other children from her school. When Prince was 16, still attending school at Lejac, her mother and two youngest sisters died in an influenza outbreak. Devastated, she opted not to return home for the summers, staying on at the school instead. After graduation, she remained at the school, completing chores such as mending, cleaning, embroidering and sewing. Prince contracted tuberculosis, and was confined to bed by the age of 34. She died 19 August 1949, and was buried on her 34th birthday. Two years later, in 1951, several graves west of the Lejac Residential School were relocated to a larger nearby cemetery. During the transfer, Prince's casket broke open, and workers were apparently astonished to find Prince's body and clothing in pristine condition, despite the years that had passed since her death. Other bodies were examined, but even those who had died after Prince showed signs of decay. In 1990, Father Jules Goulet called for a pilgrimage to Lejac. Only 20 people gathered that first year, but by 2004, 1200 people were travelling to Lejac to honour the ordinary yet deeply spiritual life of Rose Prince.
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Revised February 23, 2012 by KS.