The feast day of St. Julia Billiart is celebrated on April 8.
St. Julia Billiart was born in 1751 near Cuvilly, France. She was the daughter of wealthy farmers. As a teenager she helped support her family when they face financial difficulties. She attended a one room school house in Culvilly. Playing school was her favorite activity as a child. Her favorite subject was religion. A priest noticed her devotion and allowed her to receive her first communion at the age of nine rather that thirteen. She developed a great love of the Eucharist.
When Julia was 30 years old she came down with a strange illness. Shortly after, she witnessed an attempt on her father’s life. The trauma from the incident resulted in complete paralysis which lasted for 22 years. For part of that time she also experience a great difficulty in speaking. St. Julia offered all her pain and suffering to God. Although she was paralyzed she taught catechism from her bed for twenty years. She gave spiritual advise to those who came to visit her. She was known for often exclaiming,
“How good God is!”
St. Julia offered her home as a hiding place for priests during the French Revolution. As a result, Julie became a target herself. Five times she went into hiding to protect her friends. During this time she receive a vision. She saw her crucified Lord surrounded by religious women dressed in a habit she had never seen before. An inner voice told her that these would be her daughters and that she would begin an institute for the Christian education of young girls. With the financial help of Francoise Blin de Bourdon she became the co-founder of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Julia began living a religious life in 1803 with several companions.
In 1804 she was miraculously cured of her illness and walked again for the first time in 22 years. In 1805 she and three others made their profession and final vows. She became the Mother General of the Congregation.
After founding the Sister of Notre Dame, Julia opened a variety of schools in France and Belgium serving both the poor and the wealthy.
St. Julia died peacefully on April 8, 1816 when she was 64. She was beatified in 1906 and canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1969.
Look to God as a sunflower looks to the sun…for life.
Quote of St. Julia Billiart
April is the Month of the Eucharist.