During the French Revolution, heroic men and women preserved the Catholic Faith with great fidelity. After the revolution, the Church in France was rebuilt by dedicated clergy and faithful. Some of the heroes of that period include St. Julie (Juila) Billiart (1751-1816), St. Mary Magdalen Postel (1756-1846), and St. Eugene De Mazenod (1782-1861).
As a young girl, playing “school” was Julie Billiart’s favorite game. At 14, Julie dedicated herself to God by a vow of chastity, and at 16 she started to teach in order to support her family.
On the winter of 1774, a robber attempted to murder Julie’s father by discharging a pistol into the house. This event shocked the nervous system of Julie badly and she suffered thirty years of poor health. Julie was paralyzed for twenty-two years.
During the French Revolution, Julie offered her home as a hiding place for loyal priests. Hence, five times in three years she was forced to flee in secret.
One day, Julie had a vision. She saw the Crucified Lord surrounded by a large group of religious women dressed in a habit she had never seen. Julie was told by an inner voice that these religious would be her daughters and that she would start an institute for the education of young girls.
In 1803, Julie laid the foundation of the Sisters of Notre Dame and lived in community with a few companions. In 1804, Julie was asked by a priest to pray a Novena. During the Novena, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the priest said, “Mother, if you have any faith, take one step in honor of the Sacred Heart.” Julie got up and was cured from her paralyzation.
On October 15, 1804, Julie and her companions took the first vows in the new Congregation of Sisters of Notre Dame. Julie was elected as Mother General of the new congregation.
A favorite expression of Julie was “How good the good God is!”
Mary Magdalen Postel
At 18, Mary Magdalen Postel took the vow of chastity and opened a school for the girls at Barfluer. The school was closed by the revolutionaries during the French Revolution.
Mary Magdalen became a leader in Barfluer for loyal Catholics. She sheltered loyal priests in her home, and was authorized to keep the Blessed Sacrament at her home and to minister Viaticum to the dying.
In 1801, the Concordat between Napoleon and the Vatican allowed freedom of religion for French Catholics. Mary Magdalen was able to teach religion openly. She and three other teachers took religious vows in 1807 and started the Sisters of Christian Schools of Mercy.
Mary Magdalen said, “I want to teach the young and inspire them with the love of God and a liking for work. I want to help the poor and relieve some of their misery.”
Eugene De Mazenod
Eugene De Mazenod was the offspring of noble family in southern France. During the revolution, he spent some years in exile in Italy. He entered the seminary at 26.
He wrote, “The state of abandonment in which I saw the Church was one of the causes determining me to enter the ecclesiastical life.”
As a priest, Eugene directed his ministry to the poor. Other priests joined him to labor for the poor, and formed a community for the works of the missions and direction of seminaries. The community eventually became the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
In 1832, Eugene was consecrated bishop. He became the Bishop of Marseilles in 1837.
As Bishop, Eugene built churches, founded parishes, cared for his priests, and developed catechetics for the young.
The Oblates were sent to the five continents for missions. Pope Pius XI said, “The Oblates are the specialists of difficult missions.”
1803年，儒利. 雅貝略與幾位同伴，創立「諾默聖母會」，翌年，一位神父要雅貝略做一次九日敬禮。耶穌聖心節時，該神父向她說：「姆姆，如果妳有足夠的信德，進一步恭敬耶穌聖心吧。」儒利. 雅貝略居然可以立即起來，再次走動自如。