Julie Billiart was born in Cuvilly, France on July 12, 1751. She lived her early life in the village. She had an unusual piety and intelligence. She knew the catechism when she was seven years old. She often helped other children understand it
Her faith was noticed by the village priest, Father Dangicourt. He allowed her to make her First Communion when she was nine. That was very young at that time. When she was fourteen, she was allowed to take a vow of chastity. She continued to with her family because she needed to help work. When someone tried to kill her father, she was so shocked she became paralyzed.
While Julie was helpless she learned the virtue of fortitude. Fortitude is courage while in pain. She practiced daily prayer and receiving communion.
In 1790, the French Jacobin government sent a constitutional priest to her village. Julie lead a boycott of him. This caused her to have to go into hiding. She was a young crippled girl, living quietly, and praying. She also taught the faith to small groups of children during the French Revolution. She made linens and laces for the altar. She was a peaceful, harmless seemingly unimportant person. Yet she ended up being declared an enemy of the state. She was hunted down from house to house. She had to be hidden by friends and carried around on a stretcher.
Why were the Jacobins so afraid of her? She wasn’t helpless at all. She had the hearts and imaginations of the people. She was called “the saint Cuvilly” by the people. There wasn’t room for a saint in the new French Republic. Her ideas were thought to be dangerous.
Father Varin had been a member of the suppressed Jesuits. He asked her and a group of women to help teach thousands of children, who had grown up without religion.
On June 1, 1804, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, Julie Billiart stood up and walked. She had been completely cured.
She took her religious vows on October 15, 18014. She founded the Institute of the Sisters of Notre Dame, with three other sisters. By June 19, 1806, when approved, there were 30 sisters. The Sister educated girls and provided religious training of teachers.
Their work spread from France and into Belgium. In twelve years, Mother Julie founded fifteen convents, made one hundred twenty trips. She died on April 8, 1816, while praying the Magnificat. Her feast day is April 8.