Foundress Of Notre Dame
Julie Billiart and Her Institute. By Sister E. de Chantal. (Longmans, 7s. 6d.) Reviewed by MARGARET YEO
ABETTER title for this book would surely have been "Julie Billiart, foundress of the Institute of Notre Dame." Every Catholic knows the Notre Dame nuns, but what proportion could say offhand the name of the foundress?
The story is an exciting one. The fifty years of Julie's life before the foundation of her Institute covered the last forty years of eighteenth century monarchy in France, the French Revolution with its persecutions and martyrs, the rise of the young Corsican lieutenant of artillery to imperial power, and twenty-two years when Julie herself was a hopeless invalid. Her trials and difficulties during and after the founding of her Institute remind one of St. Teresa's argument: "No wonder You have so few friends, Lord, if this is how You treat them!"
Since Julie's death in 1816 (she was beatified ninety years later) her daughters have spread from the Mother House at Namur to Great Britain, North America, Africa, Japan and China, proof, if any were needed, of the truth of Julie's words : " The institute was not established by human means, it cannot be supported, any more than it can be uprooted, by man."
This is a most useful book of reference for facts and figures, but, it must be confessed, it is rather dull and stiff reading.