Category Archives: English

Refugees, Homeless, Immigrants

French

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Because of the turmoil associated with the French Revolution, Julie was forced to escape from her native village in May of 1791.  Now at the age of 40, she had never left Cuvilly, her parents or her family.  For three years, she fled and hid.  Although she was the recipient of the protection of some benefactors, who took great personal risk in hiding her and, as well, had the assistance of her niece, Felicity, who accompanied her throughout her exile, this period was the most bleak of her life.

However, her suffering and great difficulties took nothing away from her confidence in God.

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  • January to May 1791: Religious unrest in Cuvilly

When the Revolution broke out in Paris in July of 1789, Julie celebrated her 38th birthday.  She had been paralyzed for several years:  in 1782, Julie had been affected by an epidemic that doctors of the time thought they could cure by abundant bleedings which, little by little, deprived her of the use of her legs.  This was for her a time of profound spiritual growth.  Bedridden, Julie prayed a great deal and continued with her catechetical work by welcoming villagers among whom were her benefactors.  Julie opened paths of total confidence in God to the inhabitants of Cuvilly, disoriented by the new ideas and the turmoil associated with the Revolution.

In 1791, the disturbances reached Cuvilly.  On July 12, 1790, France adopted a new decree, the “Civil Constitution of the Clergy.”  Thus the clergy became a body of civil servants payed and selected by the State; these latter were obliged to take an oath of allegiance to the nation.  Priests had until January 1, 1791, to take this oath.

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Illustration that shows how priests were obliged to pledge allegiance to the nation. 

On January 9, 1791, Father Dangicourt, stationed in Cuvilly for more than 15 years, and his assistant pastor, Father Delaporte, took the oath in the parish church in these terms:
“I swear to watch with fidelity over the faithful who are confided to us, to be faithful to the nation, the law, and the king, and to sustain, with all our strength, the Constitution which has been decreed by the Assembly and accepted by the king, in all which is not contrary to religion, as it is written in the supreme law:  “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God, what is God’s.

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Text of the oath of Fathers Dangicourt and Delaporte, January 9, 1791 (sent to the Department on January 16, 1791), Municipal Library of Compiègne (B.M.C.), Mss 169, article 36.  

This oath was considered to be improper by the district.  By opposing the ideas of the Revolution, Father Dangicourt and his assistant became enemies of the State.

Invited on January 29 by the authorities of Compiègne to retake their oath, the two men refused.

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Handwritten letter of Pastor Dangicourt regretting his inability to go to Compiègne on April 4, 1791.  B.M.C., Mss 169, art. 47. 

In distinction to the majority of the other cases, the two ecclesiastics found solid support among most of their parishioners and in the surrounding municipality.  The notables of Cuvilly presented to the District, on March 12, a petition to keep their pastor and his assistant and to pay them by means of voluntary contributions while the municipality of Cuvilly asked the district to permit them to keep their pastor:  “… the loss of a pastor, that the residents of Cuvilly considered to be their father, would be for them a subject of affliction that they wished to avoid…”.  Finally, the post was declared vacant and a former Cordelier monk from Compiègne, Jean-Baptiste Rollet, was invested on May 8 with the heavy responsibility of replacing Father Dangicourt.

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Proclamation of priests, elected to vacant parishes, May 9, 1701.  Municipal Archives of Compiègne, File P4 18-21, religion.

From the day of his arrival in Cuvilly on May 15, the new pastor received threatening anonymous letters while the municipal reception was among the least warm.  On May 24, he sent a letter to the district asking for help.

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Transcript of an extract from the Registry of Deliberations of the Board of Management of the District of Compiègne, May 25, 1791.  Departmental Archives of Oise – Series L.

The district then dispatched three of its members along with a detachment of the national guard and of the du Berry regiment to go to Cuvilly to establish order.  They arrested the ex-assistant pastor, Delaporte, as well as several residents considered to be leaders of the disturbance.  Three of these prisoners, the Guilberts and Lanvin, were relatives of Julie.  The defendants, Delaporte, assistant pastor, and François Lanvin, mason, were brought before the tribunal of the Department of Oise while the Guilberts were sent back to Cuvilly to be under the surveillance of the municipality.  Finally, the defendants were beneficiaries of the Court’s indulgence.  Calm seemed to be reestablished in the parish of Cuvilly where a new mayor was soon elected.

Father Dangicourt is thought to have set out for Mont Valérien in June 1791 as he died in Paris in October of that same year.  Father Delaporte, once again in the village, continued to say Mass in the chapel at the chateau of Séchelles.  We don’t know where he went between 1791 and 1829, the date where one finds him again as a pastor in Ressons-sur-Matz.

As for Julie, she suffered more and more but her confidence in the goodness of God only strengthened her.  She became such an example of confidence and determination in the faith that the revolutionary forces saw in her a threat.

“Julie had the happiness of keeping from schism many people whom she instructed when they came to see her.”  (Father Trouvelot, 1820)

“Such was the esteem that the villagers had for the poor invalid that when they saw themselves deprived of their legitimate pastor, they consulted Julie to know if they were to obey the constitutional priest.  Strong in her faith, she prevented the populace from sinking into schism earning for her persecution from the partisans of the revolution.”  (Sr. Theresa of the Passion)

It is interesting to note that in 1793-94, Cuvilly remained one of the communes of the district the most rebellious to de-christianization.  The national official, Bertrand, deplored the “reluctance of this cult” manifested by the inhabitants and their reproaches “their obstinacy and stubbornness in favor of a superstitious and fanatical regime.”

  • Path of exile
    May, 1791 Julie finds refuge in Gournay-sur-Aronde

Persecuted because of her position vis-à-vis some “constitutional priests” (those who swore an oath of fidelity to the nation), Julie was forced to flee Cuvilly and to go into hiding.  Madame de Pont l’Abbé whose chateau was in Gournay-sur-Aronde offered hospitality while taking enormous risks as did all those who wanted to help people considered to be undesirable. “This lady, who was one who gathered around Julie’s sickbed and whom she loved a great deal, in order to save Julie from persecution, came to get her in her conveyance and took her to the chateau.”  She took care of Julie until the frenzy of the Revolution forced her to abandon her chateau.  Julie was accompanied by her niece, Felicity, aged 16, but would never again see her father who died when she was in Compiègne.  She would see, for the last time, her mother when she was transported from Compiègne to Amiens.

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9_GournayChateau of Gournay-sur-Aronde

Julie stayed approximatively one year with Madame de Pont l’Abbé.  Tormented herself, Madame de Pont l’Abbé had to flee to England, along with other aristocratic emigrants, where she died, leaving Julie and her niece, Felicity, under the care of her concierge, Monsieur Camus.  This man, son-in-law of the property manager for the Pont l’Abbé family, had just acquired, what was now a national good or property, the chateau’s farm that had been managed by his father-in-law.  According to Father Charles Clair:  Monsieur Camus and Julie quickly became friends.  In spite of this pledge given to the Revolution, Monsieur Camus did not seem to have been a devoted partisan of the ideas of the day; because he demonstrated to the “fanatical devotee,” a respectful attachment, one whose memory was cherished in his family.

Chronology of the Gournay-sur-Aronde chateau, click here. 

According to the testimony of Father Sellier, “when the revolutionaries came to seize the chateau and put it in receivership along with all that it held, the servants drove Julie in a cart filled with various pieces of furniture (other depositions speak of a haycart) to the town square in Compiègne where a charitable family, whose name we do not know, took pity on her.

This must have been in April, 1792, as mentioned in the graffiti on the wall of the chateau.

10_Graffiti-1Graffiti on the chateau of Gournay, side wall: souvenirs of the troops who were quartered there during the revolutionary period: “the second battalion of Haute Vienne will stick it to the aristocrats – 1792 The Nasion – 1794 Hemeri”

Did the patriots of the environs want to go after Julie, “the devote,” or after Madame de Pont l’Abbé, the noble woman who protected her?   One would be surprised that a paralytic was able to be under suspicion by the revolutionaries.  But, one must not minimize the incidents of May 25, 1791, in Cuvilly.  Among the population opposed to the arrival of the constitutional priest, there were the Guilberts and Lanvin who were relatives of Julie.  She herself was known in Cuvilly as a fervent Christian in contact with some non-juring or non-constitutional priests.  And, who more than she was connected with the nobility, the Pont l’Abbés, who had emigrated.  Hence the attribution of devote…fanatic…suspicious.

April 1792: Julie is abandoned in Compiègne

11_CharretteJulie transported in a hay cart with her niece.

According to the testimony of Father Trouvelot, pastor of Ressons-sur-Matz, Julie and Felicity received hospitality from some young women named de Chambon, who lived on the rue des Grandes Écuries.  We know almost nothing about these women, except for the bravery that they demonstrated by welcoming a stranger who was very much in a bad way!

“I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”  (Mt. 25:35)

In Compiègne, Julie’s health deteriorated quickly.  Completely paralyzed, she lost the use of speech.

Pursued and unwelcome, Julie and her niece changed lodging several times in two and one-half years but, as Sr. Marie-Francine Vanderperre pointed out, the Archives of Compiègne kept no remembrance of any refugee who did not amount to some sort of news story.   Only a note written by the Carmelite, Mother Henriette de Croissy, listing the names of Julie and Felicity and a requisition for flour drawn up in 1794, indicates the presence of Julie and her “niece”, rue Dufour.

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Letter (between 1792-1794) from Mother Henriette de Croissy, Carmelite. Archives, dep. Q, FF1 no. 50.  As one can see in this letter, Julie is in contact with the Carmelites of Compiègne through her niece, Felicity, who, it seems, does the laundry for them.  In 1793, Julie received several visits from Father de Lamarche who also knew the Carmelites of Compiègne.  Like them, Julie offers herself to God in order to save France and its Christians; she suffered profoundly from their violent death in Paris in July 1794.

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Requisition record with the signature of citizen Cardon and dated May 27, 1794.

October 1794:  Julie is welcomed in Amiens

In October of 1794, Madame Baudoin, who had formerly spent her summers in Cuvilly, had Julie brought to Amiens to the Blin de Bourdon town home where she rented an apartment for herself and her three daughters.  She hoped that the presence of the invalid would bring her strength and courage after the death on the scaffold of both her father and her husband.

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.  The stranger who sojourns with you shall be as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt:  I am the Lord your God.”  (Lev. 19:33-34)

  • The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur were also strangers, new arrivals.

On February 2, 1806, during the chanting of the “Nunc dimittis,” Mère Julie has a vision of the future apostolate of the Congregation that would cross the seas and carry to the world the message of the “Good News.”

“Like many other international congregations, we Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, traveled far beyond the borders of our roots.  Sisters moved into social groups, neighborhoods and countries where they were strangers.”  Newsletter of the leadership team of the Congregation (CLT), March 2019

“Our history reveals that a single-minded focus on the mission and the fear of being criticized (What would they think of us?) prevented us from welcoming local citizens as members. Fortunately, our eyes and hearts were opened.  […].  Sharing our life stories allows for the loss of the stranger, welcomes the person at my side and exposes the heart.”   Newsletter of the leadership team of the Congregation, March 2019.

  • The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur also welcome refugees

In this tradition, let’s note what the sisters recognized, what these “Just among the nations” accomplished in order to save Jews during the war.

To know more about the sisters who saved Jewish children during the Second World War, click here.

Still today, many Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur welcome and support refugees and migrants, sisters like Sr. Marie-Dominique Kohler who lives in Switzerland and gives classes in the German language to refugees.

To read the testimony of Sr. Marie-Dominique Kohler, click here. http://sndden.be/soeur-marie-dominique-kohler

“So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”  (Eph. 2:19)

 

Family

French

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In Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), Pope Francis called on families to create conditions that might allow children “to welcome God’s grace.”

 How did Julie’s parents live in this manner for their children

“Come on, go straight, absolutely straight to the good God like a little child with simplicity of heart.”  Julie, Letter 81.

Julie’s parents opened to her the paths of life and joy but her only Master was the Holy Spirit to whom she responded with the simplicity of a child.

“Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 18:3

  • Christian Family

“The home:  the place where the human being becomes oneself, it is there that Julie learned to love, to pray, to grow in the faith in confidence, in abandonment.” 

Christian Marriage

It is in Cuvilly, a little village in the north of France, in a home where “piety and virtue were hereditary” that Julie was born.  Her father, Jean François Billiart (from Cuvilly), married her mother Marie-Louise Antoinette Debraine (from Maignelay) in 1739.  A consistent approach that gives meaning to the baptism of their children.

2-MariageBilliart_DebraineMarriage certificate of Julie Billiart’s parents in 1739.  Click on the image to enlarge it.

Baptism – Eucharist – Confirmation

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Seventh child of the couple, Julie is baptized the day of her birth, July 12, 1751.

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Baptismal certificate of Julie Billiart.  Click on the image to enlarge it.

“You will receive my letter on the anniversary of my baptism.  How I ought to die of shame for having already spent so many years on earth and not yet having died of love for my God.”    Julie, Letter 55.

Julie’s parents had so well encouraged her in her faith that Father Dangicourt discovered a little girl of 8 already full of fervor and willing to share her love for God. Father Dangicourt granted Julie, at age 9, the rare permission of receiving her First Holy Communion. At 13, Julie received the sacrament of confirmation on June 4, 1764.  At 14, she consecrated herself to the Lord by means of a vow of perpetual chastity.

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Confirmation of Julie Billiart on June 4, 1764, in Cuvilly.  Click on the image to enlarge it.

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In order to reward Julie for her exemplary conduct, a knight gave her a reliquary cross.  When she left Cuvilly, Julie gave it to her parish church.  In 1882, Father Fournier, pastor of Cuvilly, sent it to the Mother House of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Namur.  The cross is today exposed in the Heritage Center at Namur. 

Discovery of God as a loving father

From her early childhood, she received a Christian education from her parents who cared for her in a loving manner until her departure from Cuvilly at age 40.  It is because of their treatment of her that there was formed in her “the image of God as a tender father and a loving mother.”

We must quite simply act like children who, on a very dark night, keep a tight hold on their father’s or mother’s hand and allow themselves to be led.” (Letter from Julie to Françoise, September 1, 1795)

Opening and initiation to prayer

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In several depositions made in preparation for Julie’s beatification and notably in Father Trouvelot’s testimonial, we can read that. “As a child, she often went to her room to pray with a recollection and fervor that deeply impressed her parents and others who chanced to observe it.”  Prayer penetrated Julie’s life and gave it meaning.  During her illness, she was able to spend several hours each day in prayer; she thus strengthened herself in her faith.

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Anonymous sketch of the former Billiart home (around 1791?)

History of the native home of Julie Billiart, click here.

Julie had a very tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

This is a tradition garnered by Father Fournier, former pastor of Cuvilly, that, before leaving the church, she would always kneel at Our Lady’s altar.

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Banner that Julie embroidered and that carries in its four corners horns of plenty, overflowing with flowers, and in the middle the monogram of Mary in tufted velvet yarn and sequins with this inscription:
Tota pulchra es, Maria, et macula non est in te. Tu gloria Jerusalem, tu laetitia Israel. (You are all beautiful, Mary, and the original stain is not in you.  You are the exaltation of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel.)  Today, this banner is exposed in the Heritage Center at Namur.

Like the other members of her family, Julie had a devotion to the Sacred Heart.

  • Two handwritten lists (enumerating the members of the Confraternity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus established in Cuvilly), done by the hand of Father Dangicourt, were found in a manual of prayers. The tenth name on the first list is that of Julie Billiart, followed further down are those of her sister Marie-Madeleine, her brother Louis-François, and of several people related to them.

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This list is reproduced in Father J. Claire’s, Life of Julie Billiart, Sands and Company: 1909.

  • In her legal deposition, made at Beauvais in 1882, Madam Victoire Berthelot (Julie Billiart’s great-niece) attests that the veneration of the Sacred Heart was transmitted like a heritage. “My mother told us:  I pray to the Sacred Heart, children.  Keep this devotion:  it is a family devotion.”

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Madam Victoire Neute-Berthelot
Undated photo (before 1843) taken in front of Julie’s room in Cuvilly.

Family Pilgrimage

As a child, Julie made a pilgrimage with her whole family to Montreuil-sous-Laon, where the icon of the Holy Face was located, in order to obtain a cure for her and her sister’s eyes. 

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The Holy Face, today in the Laon Cathedral.

  • Faith in action

Family that chooses life

The death of young children was common at the time and the Billiarts did not escape this trial.  Julie’s family chose life in spite of suffering and pain. Of the nine Billiart children, four died at an early age and two during adolescence. By the time of Julie’s birth, three children had already died.  Julie received the first name of her sister, Marie-Rose, deceased one year earlier.  Three other children in the Billiart family died:  Julie was five when her parents lost their newborn; then she was 13 when her sister of 22 years died; and, finally, at the age of 14, she lost her older brother who was 16.   From 1765, there were only three children in the home:  Julie (14), Marie-Madeleine (21) and her younger brother, Louis (11).  These difficult times of mourning certainly united the Billiart family, encouraging each one to go beyond oneself in order to strengthen the family bonds.

Children of the Billiart family

Louise Antoinette                                           1739-1741
Marie Louise Angélique                                1742-1764
Marie Rose                                                       1743-1750
Marie Madeleine Henriette                         1744-1819
Bonaventure                                                    1747-1750
Jean Baptiste                                                   1749-1765
Marie Rose Julie                                             1751-1816
Louis François                                                 1754-1832
Child who died the day of birth                  21/11/1750

Notice on Julie Billiart’s family, click here

Work ethic

14-MoissonJulie’s parents owned a little cloth and sewing notions business as well as a parcel of land to provide for their family.  In spite of reversals of fortune and village jealousies, Julie’s parents understood the meaning of work.  Julie inherited this. In 1767, Jean-François Billiart was forced to sell nearly all his land after thieves seized the goods in his business.  In order to help her parents, Julie made vestments and lace and worked hard in the fields with the field hands.  She also undertook frequent trips on foot or on horseback to sell the remainder of the merchandise left behind by the thieves, even going to Beauvais in order to negotiate a just price for a few pieces of cloth with an honest merchant.

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Scissors that belonged to Julie.

A family that viewed separation as one of life’s paths for their children

Even if she was not yet aware of it, at the age of 40, Julie left Cuvilly and her family to follow God’s plan.  Suffering and great difficulties took nothing away from her confidence in God.

“All will go well as I put all my hope in the Lord, all my trust in my God.  It is God’s work, not mine.”  (Julie, Letter 283)

Julie was not alone in suffering exile since she was able to count on family support by means of Felicity, the daughter of her sister, Marie-Madeleine.  Felicity was only 7 years old when her aunt, Julie, became paralyzed and she demonstrated great kindness towards Julie not hesitating to follow her when Julie had to flee Cuvilly.  How her presence must have alleviated Julie’s terrible trial!  Julie would never see her father again, since he died when she was in Compiègne, and she only briefly saw her mother for the last time when being moved from Compiègne to Amiens.

  • A family that practices its faith

Inspired by her parents, Julie put her faith into practice by focusing her attention on the poor and on welcoming all around her sick bed.

“She was able to make religion attractive at a time when many were beginning to abandon their faith.”    Roseanne Murphy

And we today in a different context: “how do we hear the call of Pope Francis?”

 

FEBRUARY 2019 – THE GOODNESS OF GOD

Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4

French

Discovering the Goodness of God through the benevolent persons who surrounded Julie in Cuvilly

The point of departure for Julie, as that of all the saints, is faith; with her, faith in a Good God, a God who is Father and whose compassionate love enfolds, sustains and carries her, whatever the circumstances of life. She believes in this wise, generous and personal love throughout her life, whether in the poverty endured by her family, in illness or in the life-threatening dangers of the Revolution.

For this theme of the month of February, we are going to discover how Julie experienced the goodness of God during her youth in Cuvilly, a little village in the north of France where Julie was born and lived for the first 40 years of her life.

SECTION 1: THREE NARRATIVES ABOUT JULIE AND HER LIFE IN CUVILLY:

1 a. Testimony of Father Trouvelot, January 20, 1820
2 b. The notes of Father Sellier, June 18, 1852
3 c. The Memoirs of Mother St. Joseph

In the Archives of the Congregation we do not have direct testimonials from anyone who knew Julie during her early years in Cuvilly. It is through the viewpoint of THREE PEOPLE who knew Julie well that we are going to discover how Julie experienced God’s goodness during her youth.

1 a.The Testimony of Father Trouvelot, pastor of Ressons

  January 20, 1820
It is he who teaches us the most about the Julie’s youth because he went to Cuvilly shortly after Julie’s death in order to collect testimonials from her contemporaries. Here is the information that I have been able to gather about the early years of Julie Billiart, he wrote. I am all the more certain about what I write since I knew her very well and heard from her own lips most of what her brother has just told me. He is referring to the younger brother of Julie, Louis Billiart (1754-1832)

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2 b. The notes of Father Sellier who met Julie in 1795 but only had a relationship with her from 1810-1811

 June 18, 1852
Father Sellier gives us details concerning Father Dangicourt who will play a considerable role with respect to Julie.

signature_sellier  sellier_1852

3 c. The Memoirs of Mother St. Joseph who met Julie in 1794

Between 1818 and 1838
The Memoirs of Mother St. Joseph contribute some details

signature mère st joseph memoiresst_joseph

We will add some details provided by Sister Theresa of the Passion (Elisabeth Lomax) in 1881 and through Father Clair,  who wrote a biography of Julie, written in 1895 (this latter had access to many documents, today disappeared due to the bombings of 1940).

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SECTION 2:  PEOPLE WHO ENCOURAGED JULIE IN HER FAITH IN A GOOD GOD

Why would one already hear of Julie spoken about in Cuvilly as “the saint who smiled”? Wouldn’t it be that the populace intuitively perceived in her this smile of God’s goodness imprinted on her face?

Julie, as soon as she attained awareness, always made this choice of life proposed to each one at the beginning of the Bible: Deut. 30:19 “I set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.”

 It is thus that, step by step she advanced in life surrounded by those who confirmed her in her identity as “a well-loved daughter of the Father.”

Interactive map with people who encouraged Julie in her faith.
Drag your mouse over the map and click on the icons.


SECTION 3: BENEVOLENT PERSONS ON WHOM JULIE SPREAD GOD’S GOODNESS 

While touching on this goodness that was revealed to her by God Himself: in prayer, the Eucharist, the benevolent people who surrounded her, Julie did not keep for herself this inestimable treasure and she, naturally, stimulated this awareness in others with whom she was acquainted!

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In his letter of 1820, Father Trouvelot describes an active and sociable child. From the age of seven, after school, “Julie read good books and taught the catechism to the other children.” According to the declarations of the villagers and as collected by Father Trouvelot, “people never saw Julie in places of public amusement. Prayer, reading good books and teaching other children, directing them away from the occasion of sin, this was her recreation.” Julie “by nature was very quick-tempered, but she learned, with God’s grace, to moderate her natural vivacity so well that even in childhood she let no one suffer from it.”

Father Trouvelot learned from her brother that if she felt she had been too quick with her younger brother, she punished herself for it immediately, and she knew so well how to make up for these small failings that she was the only one who complained about them.” “While she was still a child and in her father’s house,” relates Mother St. Joseph, “she began instructing the poor children in the truths of religion. There was one who was a beggar; the lessons she gave helped him to find the means to earn his livelihood. I saw a letter he wrote her more than thirty years later, well composed, expressing his faith and gratitude; he said that after God she had been the principal cause of the happiness in his life.”

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After her Communion, Julie began “to assist her parents by working in the fields: and visiting the Blessed Sacrament in the afternoon or evening.” During the permitted break in the middle of the day, she assembled the harvesters, men and women, speaking to them of the Good God and having them sing hymns.”

After the theft of her parents’ shop, “Julie, 15 years of age, redoubled her efforts to help the family, securing work in the fields at a harvester, where none of the field-hands could surpass her. Meantime she neglected none of her spiritual duties; each week she went to confession and communion with a devotion and recollection that revealed how deeply she was aware of the greatness of the act she was performing. She seemed to draw from the Eucharist the strength, even physical, that she needed to sustain the great fatigues she bore to relieve the distress of her parents.”

Father Trouvelot also recounts how, one day, Julie “placing her trust in God,” made a bundle of goods and “set out for Beauvais, a city where she knew no one. Arriving at the city, she entered the first shop she found open and offered her fabrics for sale…. For six years, she continued her labor in the fields.”

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When she was 21 or 22, Julie fell ill, “the local physician was called in, and she became the victim of his ignorance; immediately he bled her feet.” She remained “weak and infirm, and for years was unable to walk, until cured.” Her illness could have isolated her but her expansive personality and her enthusiasm inspired people to visit her. “Ill and deprived of the use of her legs, she still found good to do. Noble women, who helped her with her temporal necessities, came to seek her assistance in their spiritual needs, on the advice of their pastor. She continued to teach catechism to the children and villagers who happily gathered at her bedside.”

Interactive map with the noble ladies who helped Julie.
Drag your mouse over the map and click on the icons.


SECTION 4: THE GOODNESS OF GOD IN ALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HER LIFE

In contrast to the rigid views of Jansenism, a movement that predominated within the French Christian Churches of her time, Julie always described God as a Good God. “This is the solid truth,” she said, “the Good God only asks of us to do the good that we can with His grace.”

Julie suffered more and more but, as St. Paul says,” It is when I am weak that I am strong” and her deep conviction of the God’s goodness was immutable in all the circumstances of her life.

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During her illness:
Formerly a young woman active in Cuvilly, traveling, doing business, comforting the sick, leading the parish, Julie, now on a sickbed, waited; she grew strong in her faith spending several hours each day in prayer. According to Father Sellier, Julie profited “so well from the lessons of her holy director, Father Dangicourt, that she became in just a few years a model of edification and the long series of tests and infirmities contributed greatly to her advancement in the way of holiness by means of the virtues that this state of suffering gave her the opportunity to practice.” In her Memoirs, Mother St. Joseph speaks of Julie crosses, of her bed of suffering: “Living faith was the source of her patience while long and intimate prayer made her illness bearable, strengthened her love, and prepared her for what Providence had in store for her.”

As a postscript to his letter, Father Trouvelot reports “what some people were telling him yesterday.” “That during the time of her infirmity she used to have them come to her room for instruction, and that she went on with her lessons in spite of her suffering. They said that she taught them to love goodness and virtue, which she made attractive, especially through her own patience and kindness and the zeal she displayed in instructing them.”

In spite of the danger of the Revolution:
Julie opened the way of total confidence in God to the inhabitants of Cuvilly, disoriented by new ideas and the troubles associated with the Revolution, a confidence that reassured and guided them. “Such was the esteem that the villagers had for the poor invalid that when they were deprived of their legitimate pastor, they consulted Julie in order to know if they should obey their constitutional priest. Strong in her faith, she prevented all in the village from floundering into schism, though it earned for her the persecution of revolutionary partisans.”

Father Trouvelot says in his 1820 letter: “Julie carried on her work of teaching, especially continuing the religious education of children and others uninstructed in the truths of faith. She had the happiness of preventing many people from falling into schism.”