Saint Julie Billiart

Bodily Ills

As a young girl in France, Saint Julie Billiart loved to play school. She went to a little one-room schoolhouse, and loved her lessons, especially her religion lessons. At the age of 16, she was hired to teach the farm workers about the Bible during their lunch break.

Saint Julie Billiart’s father owned a store and she often helped him with his work there. She was in the store the day a thief tried to rob them and shot her father. Her father survived but Saint Julie was deeply affected and became paralyzed from the trauma. She offered all of her pain and suffering to Jesus. Even though she was bedridden, she worked making lace and linen for altar cloths and vestments, taught poor children from her bed, prayed, and received the Eucharist every day.

During the French Revolution, priests and nuns were often imprisoned and even executed. Saint Julie Billiart worked to hide priests and help them avoid capture. She even had to escape and hide herself. Once she escaped in a wagon, she lay covered up with hay. She did all of this while paralyzed.

Saint Julie Billiart received a vision from Jesus instructing her to start a new religious order for women. Together with a French noblewoman, she co-founded the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Saint Julie Billiart was miraculously healed from her paralysis on the feast of the Sacred Heart. Able to walk again, she traveled to other towns and cities to spread news of the order of Sisters and to find young women to join them. The Sisters of Notre Dame were founded to help poor children, especially young girls, and to train teachers. The order grew rapidly and by the end of her life, she had founded 15 convents.

Saint Julie Billiart is the patron saint of poverty, bodily ills, and disease. She once said, "Be like the sunflower that follows every movement of the sun, and keep your eyes always turned towards our good God." Saint Julie Billiart can help us to keep our eyes turned toward God all day, every day.