The Wonderful Life of St. Julia Billiart
Saint Julie was immersed in God’s love and goodness, even in the midst of great suffering. She was a woman of vision who responded to the needs of the suffering world around her.
Born in Cuvilly, France, on July 12, 1751, Julie lived a humble life in a loving family. She was a woman of serenity, despite the great personal suffering she endured. The Billiart family survived many hardships, including the deaths of several children. When Julie was 16, she went to work to help support her family. At the age of 23 she became paralyzed by the trauma of a shooting that was aimed at her father. She spent more than 20 years confined to her bed, unable to care for even her most basic needs. Besides her physical pain, Julie suffered religious persecution, lived in hiding as a refugee. Throughout her suffering, she steadfastly trusted in God’s goodness. At the age of 53, Julie and her very good friend, Françoise Blin de Bourdon, along with two other women, made their vows as Sisters of Notre Dame in Amiens, France. A variety of difficult circumstances caused her to move her congregation to Namur, Belgium, several years later. Today these sisters are known as the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
Julie reached out to the poor and forgotten, she brought comfort and hope to those around her, she encouraged faith in the seeking and the lost. More than anything else, she was a witness to the deep, loving goodness of God. Her motto and mantra was: “Oh, how good God is!” In 1969 Julie was named a saint by the Catholic Church. The impact that Saint Julie had on the world continues through the life and ministry of the sisters who share in her heritage. At one time, her Feast Day was designated as April 8, which was the anniversary of her death in 1816. However it is now celebrated on May 13th honouring the day she was made a Saint in 1969.