Saturday, April 8, 2017
Saint Julie Billiart
SAINT OF THE DAY - ST. JULIE BILLIART
St. Julie Billiart (1751-1816) was born in Cuvilly, France, to a large and prosperous farming family. By the age of seven she knew her catechism by heart, and would gather her playmates together and teach it to them. Her spiritual progress was so remarkable that her parish priest allowed her to make an early first communion at the age of nine, at which time she took a vow of chastity. As a teenager she already had the reputation of being a living saint. When financial ruin struck her family she worked in the fields alongside the reapers. At the age of twenty-two she became paralyzed and remained a bed-ridden invalid for the next twenty-two years. However this did not prevent her from having an active life. She received Holy Communion daily, made altar laces and linens, catechized the village children from her bedside, and spent many hours in contemplative prayer. When the French Revolution erupted she gave aid to priests in her home, and soon after was smuggled to safety while hidden in a hay cart. She took refuge in the home of a countess, and due to her sanctity soon had a company of young, noble ladies gathered around her bed to whom she taught the ways of the interior life. From this St. Julie founded and led the Institute of the Sisters of Notre Dame dedicated to the Christian education of girls and the training of catechists. After making her vows in 1804, she was cured of her paralysis. For the next twelve years she made over a hundred journeys as she founded fifteen convents of her order. St. Julie Billiart's feast day is April 8th.