In Julie’s time
Design of Julie’s native home drawn by Monsieur Lejeune, August 22, 1853. Click to enlarge.
Long mud building, one floor, with a thatched roof; three consecutive rooms: store, bedroom and Julie’s room; an entrance cut in this room – after 1782 – providing access to the courtyard.
Courtyard with sheds: garden; land sold in 1767 (now a cemetery)
Old well near the outer wall of the shed.
Evolution up to the present
The house became the property of the Institute in 1882.
Undated picture (before 1895) taken in front of Julie’s room – Two sisters and a cousin (Julie’s grandnieces): Victoire NEUTE, wife of E. Berthelot (deceased in 1895), Thérèse DAMHET (1812-1905) and Madeleine Neute (born in 1821). Click to enlarge.
In March 1914, before the First World War, Mère Maria-Julienne and her assistant went to Cuvilly. According to the Annals, “never had a Sister of Notre Dame seen Julie’s home”. The two sisters were able to find the house as Julie knew it. A long description in the Annals of the Institute can be found:
“Having arrived on the threshold of the door that opened to the courtyard, our dear Mother and our dear Sister Superior were not able to contain their emotion on seeing the extreme poverty of this dwelling..[…] The little room […] 8’10” wide and only 6’7” high. Toward the back of the room, a little altar on the spot where the bed had been. [,,,] The home of our Blessed Mère Julie had neither basement nor attic, it consisted of only three rooms. Our dear Mother spoke at length with the elderly Mr. Huelle, a relative four times removed, and his step-daughter (or daughter?), Madame Cordier […]
Postcard of the destruction of the house in 1918
In June, 1918, the village was completely destroyed: Julie’s house was no longer standing and the church where she prayed was greatly damaged. The door to Julie’s room was given to Namur but will be burned in the bombings of the Mother House in 1940 and 1944.
Billiart Home, view from the road where one still sees the well that existed in Julie’s time and view of the garden (after 1934 because a metal gate is separating the garden)
1934 – reconstruction of the house in brick according to the original design; oratory erected on the site of Julie’s room; courtyard, sheds renovated – gate separating garden.
Until 1960 the renters of the home belonged to Julie’s family:
- Séraphine Heuelle, relative of Julie, five times removed (1863-1952), married to Louis Cordier
- Then the daughter (or step-daughter?) of Séraphine, Charlotte Cordier and her second husband Fidozée Roussel, this latter occupies the house until his death in 1969.
In 1969, Julie is declared a Saint by Pope Paul VI; a commemorative plaque is placed on the wall facing the street. Monsieur and Madame Devallois (nearby neighbors) will be the guardians of the oratory and the house until the arrival of the Sisters in 1985.
New construction, 1985.
It is in 1984 that the construction of the new house begins; the work proceeds slowly because of the harsh winter of 1984-1985. The new community is installed in Cuvilly on September 4, 1985. A school directed by the Sisters of Notre Dame already existed in Orvillers-Sorel, 1.9 miles from Cuvilly, since 1956. A second school was opened in Noyon in 1956.
The Rue de Lataule becomes Rue Julie Billiart in 1994 for the 25th anniversary of the canonization.
Photo of the plaque of 1969 and of the sign of 2001
In 2001, for the 250th anniversary of Julie’s birth, the sign of Saint Julie on the gable of the Cuvilly house is inaugurated (the work of Monsieur Boulogne from the design of Sister Albert Gosse).