Julie Billiart was born July 12, 1751, in Picardy, France, the fifth of seven children. She was christened Marie Rose Julia. Julie lived on a farm, but her favorite pastime was pretending to be a teacher and playing school. The school Julie attended was a rural one-room school house. Her favorite subject was religion, taught by the local parish priest. This priest noticed Julie’s great piety and saw that she was special. For that reason, he secretly allowed Julie to make her first communion at age nine. At that time the normal age was thirteen. Julie developed a great love for Jesus in the Eucharist.
When Julie was still a young girl, someone attempted to murder her father. Some believed that this incident so traumatized Julie that she developed a mysterious illness paralyzing her for over twenty years. During the French Revolution Julie hid loyal priests in her home. Because of this, Julie herself became a fugitive. Many times she had to flee to escape discovery in homes where friends were hiding her. During this time Julie had a vision. She saw the Lord crucified and all around Him were religious women dressed in a habit she had never seen. In an inner locution, she was told that these women would be her daughters and that she would start an institute for the Christian education of young girls. In 1803 Julie, along with a few women, began their lives as religious and founded the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Julie’s vision had come true. One year later, Julie was miraculously cured of the paralysis that she had endured for twenty-two years. Then in 1805, Julie and three of her companions took their final vows. Julie was elected as Mother General of the congregation.
Mother Julie Billiart spent the next ten years caring for the poor, nursing the wounded from the Battle of Waterloo, and feeding the hungry. On April 8, 1816, at age 64, she went to be with the Lord.
Julie worked hard to expand her Institute and by the time of her death, fifteen convents had been established. Pope Paul VI canonized her in 1969.
Lord Jesus, we offer up all our pain and sufferings to You, just as St. Julie did during her long illness. We pray, dear Lord, that You will unite our sufferings with Yours and that through these, many souls are saved. Amen.