Walter Gautier was born in Picardy, France, in 1030. A well-educated individual, he became a professor of philosophy and rhetoric. Later, he entered the Benedictine abbey of Rebais-en-Brie. When King Philip I appointed Walter as the first abbot of a new monastery at Pontoise, Walter reminded Philip that God was the one who conferred such honours, not the king. Seeking solitude, he fled Pontoise on two occasions, but both times he was forced to return. Walter then went to Rome to ask Pope Gregory VII for release from his position so that he could follow a life of solitude. However, the pope told Walter to use the talents God had given him, and thus Walter resigned himself to staying at Pontoise. When he spoke out against simony and the evil lives of the secular clergy, this caused great outrage, and on one occasion he was beaten and thrown into prison. After his release, Walter continued to live a life of mortification, spending entire nights in prayer. After establishing the foundation of a convent in honour of Mary at Bertaucourt, Walter died on Good Friday in 1095. – Catholic Online
Julie Billiart was born in 1751 and died in 1816. As a child, playing “school” was Julie’s favorite game. When she was sixteen, to help support her family, she began to teach “for real”. She sat on a haystack during the noon recess and told the biblical parables to the workers. Julie carried on this mission of teaching throughout her life, and the congregation she founded continues her work.
Julie was the fifth of seven children. She attended a little one room school in Cuvilly. She enjoyed all of her studies, but she was particularly attracted to the religion lessons taught by the parish priest. Recognising something “special” in Julie, the priest secretly allowed her to make her First Communion at the age of nine, when the normal age at that time was thirteen. She learned to make short mental prayers and to develop a great love for Jesus in the Eucharist.
A murder attempt on her father shocked her nervous system badly. A period of extremely poor heath for Julie began, and was to last for thirty years. For twenty-two of these years she was completely paralyzed. All of her sufferings and pain she offered up to God.
When the French Revolution broke out, Julie offered her home as a hiding place for loyal priests. Because of this, Julie became a hunted prey. Five times in three years she was forced to flee in secret to avoid compromising her friends who were hiding her.
At this time she was privileged to receive a vision. She saw her crucified Lord surrounded by a large group of religious women dressed in a habit she had never seen before. An inner voice told her that these would be her daughters and that she would begin an institute for the Christian education of young girls. She and a rich young woman founded the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
At Amiens, the two women and a few companions began living a religious life in 1803. In 1804, Julie was miraculously cured of her illness and walked for the first time in twenty-two years. In 1805, Julie and three companions made their profession and took their final vows. She was elected as Mother General of the young Congregation.
In 1815, Mother taxed her ever poor health by nursing the wounded and feeding the starving left from the battle of Waterloo. For the last three months of her life, she again suffered much. She died peacefully on 8 April 1816 at 64 years of age. Julie was beatified on 13 May 1906, and was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1969. – Catholic Online