Saint Julie Billiart
An unusual defiant of the French Revolution, Julie Billiart, not just bywords but also by her actions, teaches us that no condition is too richor too poor to serve God.
The Young Teacher
Marie Rose Julie Billiart was born on 12th July 1751 in CuvillyPicardy, Northern France. Her parents were simple well-to-do farmers.She was the sixth of seven children with only three surviving adulthoodof father Jean Francois Billiart and mother Marie Louise Antonette.
Julie showed interest in God’s work early as a child. By the age ofseven, she had learned catechism by heart. Julie would gather herplaymates and farm laborers to hear her recite the catechism and teachthem. When her family lost their money, she took to farming to earnmoney as a teen.
It was apparent Julie was way ahead of her peers in matters of religion.Her Parish Priest, Father Dangicourt, made an exception for her toreceive the First Holy Communion at nine instead of the stipulated ageof thirteen as practiced at that time. At age 14, Julie privately tookthe oath of chastity to God.
Broken but Not Crushed
Julie was a child to look out for with a simple education she obtainedfrom the local school ran by uncle Thibault Gillibiert and her advancedknowledge of religious matters. Growing up, she was known as the “Saintof Cuvilly” for her virtues and piety.
A sad occurrence at home in 1774 when she was 22 threatened to breakher, but Julie wouldn’t let it crush her spirit.
An unknown assailant had shot at her father in a missed attack on hislife, and witnessing this event sent Julie into a nervous shock.Inadequate medical treatment resulted in paralysis of her legs. For manyyears, Julie was confined to a bed.
Nevertheless, from her bed, Julie instructed children to prepare for theFirst Holy Communion, make altar linen and cloths, offer great advice toall who came to her. Many recognized her gifts and will beseech her bed.
Julie the Rebel?
In 1989, the French Revolution broke out. Following the aftermath of therevolution, the civil constitution was constituted. Church propertieswere sold off, and priests were forced to sworn allegiance to the civillaw, stripping the church of all its power and jurisdiction over churchmatters.
Refusal to comply with the directives of the new civil law by any clergyattracts punishment, some death or banishment as may deem fit.
But Julie defied the new law, and at the risk of her life, she hidfugitive priests who had refused to swear their allegiance to the law.When the authority became aware of the help she had been rendering tonon-compliant priests, they sought to kill her.
With the help of her friends, Julie was smuggled out of Cuvilly in acart to Compiegne. She hid in different houses at Compiegne despite hergrowing suffering and pain from being paralyzed. Later, she moved toAmiens.
At Amiens, Julie met Francoise Blin de Bourdon, a noblewoman, andreligious woman. Together they devoted themselves to working for God andfighting the cause of the poor.
On Feb 2, 1804, Julie, Francoise, and Catherine Duchatel took the oathof chastity. With the approval of the bishops of Amiens, Julie andFrancoise founded the Congregation of Sisters of Notre Dame. Thecongregation was devoted to the Christian education of the girl child,the poor, and training catechists.
Remarkably, on June 1, 1804, the fifth day Julie was offering novena tothe Sacred Heart of Jesus for no particular intention, guided by FrEnfantin to take a walk of faith, Julie was cured on the spot of herparalysis.
In the following years, Julie traveled roads of France and Belgium,founding communities of her sisters and setting up schools for younggirls deprived of education at the time. She brought hope and thegoodness of God in society by preparing vulnerable young children toface life duties.
Setbacks encountered in France made Julie move the motherhouse of thecongregation to Namur in Belgium.
End of the Journey
Julie spent the rest of the years tirelessly caring for others andrunning from war hostilities in France.
She took ill, and on May 13, 1816, she departed the world at themotherhouse in Namur, Belgium.
She was beatified on May 13, 1906, by Pope Pius X, and on June 22, 1969,Julie was canonized as a saint by Pope Paul V1.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Julie Billiart
- Julie spent a total of 22 years as a paralytic before her miraculous
healing took place.
- In her lifetime, Julie founded 15 convents in France and Belgium and
made one hundred and twenty journeys in keeping correspondences
with her spiritual daughters in different places.
- Are you aware Julie’s patronage is invoked against poverty, bodily
ills, and diseases? She worked tirelessly to lift the poor, and
never once in 22 years of her affliction with paralysis did she
thought God had given up on her.
- No condition was ever enough to keep away from the Eucharist. For
all the years confined in bed, Julie received Holy Communion
- Guess the first college in California authorized to bequeath
Bachelor’s degree to women in the US? Yes, you’re right. Notre
Dame de Namur University, founded by the congregation of Notre
Dame. Her legacy lives on.
Prayer to St. Julie Billiart
Saint Julie,Through your incredible devotion to the sacred heart of Jesus,You were miraculously cured and favored by many graces,By your powerful intercessions,Obtain for us above all things,Great trust in God,In all the difficulties of lifeThe strength to accomplish in all things,The adorable will of GodAnd the special grace we now ardently,Ask of you…..Amen