Born in Cuvilly, France, into a family of well-to-do farmers, young Marie Rose Julia Billiart showed an early interest in religion and in helping the sick and poor. Though the first years of her life were relatively peaceful and uncomplicated, Julie had to take up manual work as a young teen when her family lost its money. However, she spent her spare time teaching catechism to young people and to the farm laborers.

A mysterious illness overtook her when she was about 30. Witnessing an attempt to wound or even kill her father, Julie was paralyzed and became a complete invalid. For the next two decades she continued to teach catechism lessons from her bed, offered spiritual advice and attracted visitors who had heard of her holiness.

When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, revolutionary forces became aware of her allegiance to fugitive priests. With the help of friends she was smuggled out of Cuvilly in a haycart; she spent several years hiding in Compiegne, being moved from house to house despite her growing physical pain. She even lost the power of speech for a time.

But this period also proved to be a fruitful spiritual time for Julie. It was at this time she had a vision in which she saw Calvary surrounded by women in religious habits and heard a voice saying, “Behold these spiritual daughters whom I give you in an Institute marked by the cross.” As time passed and Julie continued her mobile life, she made the acquaintance of an aristocratic woman, Francoise Blin de Bourdon, who shared Julie’s interest in teaching the faith. In 1803 the two women began the Institute of Notre Dame, which was dedicated to the education of the poor as well as young Christian girls and the training of catechists. The following year the first Sisters of Notre Dame made their vows. That was the same year that Julie recovered from the illness: She was able to walk for the first time in 22 years.

Though Julie had always been attentive to the special needs of the poor and that always remained her priority, she also became aware that other classes in society needed Christian instruction. From the founding of the Sisters of Notre Dame until her death, Julie was on the road, opening a variety of schools in France and Belgium that served the poor and the wealthy, vocational groups, teachers. Ultimately, Julie and Francoise moved the motherhouse to Namur, Belgium.

Julie died there in 1816. She was canonized in 1969.

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  1. I came to this site to see the rest of the quote cut off in the facebook post. I didn’t find it here – Her whole soul was echoed in the simple and naive formula which was continually on her lips and pen: Ah..
    I’d love to hear the simple and naive formula……

    • I found the rest of the quote: Her whole soul was echoed in the simple and naïve formula which was continually on her lips and pen: “Oh, qu’il est bon, le bon Dieu” (How good God is). She possessed all the qualities of a perfect superior, and inspired her subjects with filial confidence and tender affection.

  2. I was educated by The Sisters of Notre Dame my whole school life – and had an Auntie in the same order – it must have been their indirect influence that has made me a Catechist in my adult life – ‘Oh qu’il est bon, le bon Dieu’


  4. My mother prayed to Blessed Julie years ago—-a least 69yrs ago—she prayed that her granddaughter would be Baptized and she was. I did pray to St. Julie often too and even corresponded with one of the nuns at the Sisters of Notre Dame. It has been awhile now and this facebook message will encourage me to again pray to St. Julie. I will pray to her to intercede to God that my great grandchildren will be Baptized into the Catholic Church. Thank you for sharing her life with me.

  5. St.Julie,,,,,how Blessed are we,,,,you NEVER. QUIT !!!!!!!!!!
    And because of your FAITH,,,,,,,neither have many Other’s !!!!!!!!!
    Thank you GOD for giving us,,,,,,,SAINTS,,,,,,who give their LIVES teaching us the CATHOLIC FAITH !!!!!!!!!!

  6. Dear Julie Billiart, May God bless you and the Sisters of Notre Dame — for the wonderful job you performed.


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