Friendship of St. Julie & Françoise 

Community Encircled by Friendship

Friends, Quite simply, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur wouldn't exist without friends. We are a community encircled by friendship, from our earliest days to today.

We often talk about the most improbable friendship between St. Julie Billiart and Françoise Blin de Bourdon that formed our congregation in 1804, but we rarely dwell on the details. We decided that the story of their remarkable relationship is too beautiful not to share with our friends.

The Story of Friendship

The first four chapters of the rich story of Julie and Françoise are presented here. In the first piece, we take you back to the very moment the two first met. In the second piece, we take a look at their blossoming friendship and spirituality. The third chapter shows the establishment of the first Notre Dame schools. We pick up the thread in the evolution of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in the fourth chapter, tracing the growing influence of Julie and Françoise on education and social change in France and beyond.

The fifth chapter begins with the death of St. Julie Billiart on April 8, 1816.  It was obvious to all that Françoise Blin de Bourdon would be Julie’s natural successor. Now called Mother St. Joseph, she was 60 years old when she assumed leadership of the congregation.  The sixth chapter shows Mother St. Joseph's courageous response to King William’s hostile measures against Catholicism while continuing to grow the congregation.