Who is Mother Julienne?
Julienne was born in the Notre-Dame-de-Jacques-Cartier parish in Quebec City, on May 23, 1911. She was baptized on May 25, Ascension Day. During her first communion, she experienced the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. While meditating the gospel passage of the Samaritan woman in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament at the age of twelve, she understood that God's gift is Jesus in the Eucharist, and that He calls her to be a missionary, to seek with Jesus adorers of the Father. With the desire to be a nun in her heart, she entered into three different communities and each time, was obliged to leave because of poor health.
On Holy Thursday 1942,she discover the immense love through which Our Lord gives Himself in the Eucharist and His desire that we may live by this love. She confided in canon Cyrille Labrecque and he discerned that she had been called to found a religious congregation. On April 30, 1945, the Dominican Missionary Adorers came to existence. Mother Julienne du Rosaire constantly communicate to everyone the eucharistic fire witch burned in her.
She died on January 6, 1995, the day of the Epiphany after fifty years of self-giving to her daughters and to all those who were close to her, consumed by the desire to guide today's Magi to the Lord of the Eucharist.
Let us recall the words she spoke a few years earlier: "My life is coming to an end, but it is only apparent; my mission is about to begin, my mission to seek out adorers... I hope to spread the fire of Eucharistic Love throughout the world. »
Her Cause for Beatification and Canonization has been opened at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.
A biography is available: Woman of Light and Fire (139 pages) that can be obtained at Les Éditions du Cénacle.
Short biographical video
The Saint-Roch district at the beginning of the 20th Century
Saint-Roch is an industrial section of Quebec City. At the end of the 19th century, various factories were established there. A certain commercial aristocracy lived in this densely populated area, although the great majority of its residents belonged to the working class.
In the center of the district stood the church of Saint-Roch, the first parish to be separated from the mother parish of the diocese, Notre-Dame-de-Québec. East of this church was another place of worship built in 1851 and canonically erected as a parish on September 25th, 1901. It was the parish of Notre-Dame-de-Jacques-Cartier.
A Christian environment
At the beginning of the 20th century, the life of faith of the inhabitants of this neighborhood was marked by the Quebec Catholicism of the day: parish life and the activities connected with it dominated social life. It was a time when the influence of the Roman Catholic Church was at its peak. The clergy and the religious institutions, among which were found several religious teaching Congregations, played a predominant role in the lives of the majority of Catholics, especially in neighborhoods like Saint-Roch.
The importance of Eucharistic worship
At the time, the importance of Eucharistic worship characterised Christianity in Quebec and expressed itself through various public devotions such as the "Forty hours" devotion, Corpus Christi processions, the Feast of the Sacred Heart, etc. Two important initiatives by Pope Saint Pie X can partly explain the attitude of Christians towards the sacrament of the Eucharist: first of all, the decree Sacra Tridentina, of December 20th, 1905, in which the Holy Father invited Christians to receive Holy Communion frequently and then the decree Quam singulari of August 8th, 1910, which granted to children having reached the age of reason the possibility of making their first Holy Communion.
A family welcome, a predestined child
It was precisely from this environment that God raised this mystic of the Eucharist, Julienne Dallaire. She was born on the second floor of a small house on Rue des Commissaires, in the parish of Notre-Dame-de-Jacques-Cartier on May 23rd, 1911. She was baptized in the parish church on May 25th, on the Feast of the Ascension.
Julienne’s father, Gaudiose Dallaire, and her mother, Alexina Faucher, already had a boy. Nine more children - two died at a young age - would enrich the home. Julienne came from a humble and hard-working family. The father was at first a cigar-maker and then employed by Quebec City Hall as a gardener and later as a night watchman. In 1921, after moving back and forth from the parish of Jacques-Cartier to that of Saint-Roch, the family settled down definitively in the latter. Julienne was approximately 10 years old.
The parents of the child were fervent Christians. The father, a contemplative person with a strong devotion to the daily Eucharist, was a man of duty who would have a profound influence on his elder daughter. The mother was a friendly, welcoming woman, overflowing with charity towards all, in particular towards poor people. The whole neighborhood was welcome in her house. Even if she had a lot of work to do in her own home, she hurried without hesitation to help those in need, and also devoted time to the various charitable activities of the parish. Life in the Dallaire household was laborious, simple and joyful and all followed loyally the requirements of a fervent Christian life.
Julienne always helped her parents with the other children of the family. She was, one could say, their “second mother", the one who takes care of each child, but also the one to whom they came very simply for advice or to confide in and to recommend their prayer intentions: for the family knew by experience that Julienne's prayer had a very particular efficiency.
Later, between her different attempts at religious life – we will come back to that later - Julienne, a very skillful seamstress, devoted her time to sewing clothes for the family. She also worked for other people so as to bring financial help to her parents. How many poor people were the beneficiaries of her generosity! She also devoted herself, like her mother, to the charitable activities of the parish.
The mystery of her interior life
However, through all her contacts with people, Julienne already exercised a mysterious influence, attracting them by her simplicity and her charity, but also by an indefinable, fascinating aura that emanated from her.
The reason was that this young woman lived mysteriously a unique experience of Jesus, especially of Jesus in the Eucharist. This experience would gradually deepen and introduced Julienne to a renewed understanding of the Eucharistic mystery, bringing her to discover little by little the singular mission for which God was preparing her. For, along a meandering path strewn with trials, Julienne came to understand that God intended her to found a new religious Congregation in the Church: the Dominican Missionary Adorers, of which she would be the mother, bearing the providential name of Julienne of the Rosary.
We must therefore come closer to the mystery which lived in Julienne and discover the stages which were to lead her to her future vocation as foundress. We shall follow the interpretation that Mother Julienne herself made of her own evolution.
A first discovery: the mystery of the Ascension
Julienne’s first memory takes us back to her early childhood at the age of four. She was sitting on her mother’s knee and her mother was speaking to her about the mystery of the Ascension, the liturgical feast on which the child had been baptized. In Julienne’s imagination, she saw herself rising to heaven, snuggled in the arms of Jesus. She had already discovered that baptism opens the door to heaven and that it is in Jesus that our ascent towards eternal Life is made. The assurance was given to her that one day she would go to heaven.
The discovery of the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
Already captivated by Jesus, Julienne experienced his Eucharistic presence very strongly at the moment of her First Communion on December 25th, 1916. She was five and a half years old. She became deeply aware of the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and of his visit in our heart by means of Holy Communion. From this moment on, the Real Presence became the main pole of attraction in her spiritual life, making her want continually to visit her Lord in the tabernacle of her parish church.
Discovery of God's Word: the Samaritan woman
Still very young, Julienne also discovered the Word of God. She began to study the Gospel, especially when in the presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, trying to live there what she had understood.
She read the daily Gospel attentively. When she received Jesus in Communion, she always did so in connection with the Gospel, saying that it was the way the Lord had chosen to give himself to her that day.
While studying the Gospel, Julienne once experienced Jesus in a very special way that would mark her for life. At the age of twelve, while meditating in front of the Blessed Sacrament on the story of the Samaritan woman, she was fascinated by Christ at Jacob's well and asked him about the gift of God. She was especially struck by Our Lord's own words: "If you knew the gift of God" (cf. Jn 4, 10). These words resounded in her mind and her heart. She sought to grasp what Our Lord wanted the Samaritan woman to understand when he said: “If you knew the gift of God and who it is who is speaking to you…”. Julienne asked the Lord to tell her what this gift was that it is so important for us to know. And she understood at last that the gift of God is the Host; the Eucharist is that gift of God.
The Father seeks adorers
Between the ages of twelve and seventeen, these other words of Jesus to the Samaritan woman challenged her: "My Father is looking for adorers (cf. Jn 4, 23)”. She had the impression that she was penetrating, little by little, into the heart of Christ and discovering his desire to give adorers to the Father. And she felt that she must help him find them.
At the same time, she understood that when Jesus said: "The hour has come", it was because it is he, the Son of God incarnate, "who is the only real adorer of the Father, and that we are adorers in him and through him; that the first beating of his Heart, his first living breath, was not just his first act of adoration, but the beginning of an adoration that would never end". "Our poor adorations” - she would say – “must lose themselves in the ocean of love of the Heart of Jesus, and go up towards God transformed into his; and by the Eucharist, he wants to associate us with his life of adoration and love".
Gradually, she became aware that the Mass is the real sacrifice of adoration which Jesus offers his Father.
In this gradual way, Julienne perceived more and more clearly the call to a vocation that would be both Eucharistic and missionary, a vocation which she saw she could realize within the religious life.
Answering God’s call through pain and darkness
To answer this call, Julienne at 17 entered the Congregation of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, a community that is dedicated both to mission and to adoration. But her health failed and, after a while, the authorities of the Congregation told her that she should leave the community.
At the age of 21, she made another attempt at religious life with the Sisters Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary, but she quickly understood that school teaching was not for her.
Years passed and her inquiries to other religious Congregations were unsuccessful; none would accept her because of her poor health.
At the age of 29, Julienne, with her sister Yvette, was welcomed into the community of the Dominicans of the Child Jesus (today, the Dominicans of the Trinity). This was providential because in this community she encountered the figure of Saint Dominic and recognized in him "her" father; it was there that she discovered his desire to have daughters who would be both missionaries and focused on adoration.
But new health problems arose; the authorities of the Congregation told Julienne that she should leave and return to her family. On November 2nd, 1940, broken with sorrow, she left this Dominican community where she had been so happy. Plunged in thick darkness, Julienne sacrificed her deepest desire, telling God: "I offer you in sacrifice my deepest aspirations […] I will live in the world because such seems to be your will for me. I shall try to sanctify myself there as best I can". However, she continued her life of prayer with no less intensity. As soon as her health improved sufficiently, she returned to her work as a seamstress and to her dedication to the poor.
The Discovery of the Will of God.
A new spiritual Director
A sister from the Dominicans of the Child Jesus (where she had recently and unsuccessfully tried her vocation), Mother Madeleine de Pazzi, had discerned in Julienne a particularly intense and outstanding spiritual life and felt that she should find a new spiritual director. She suggested that Julienne get in touch with Canon Cyrille Labrecque, a Dominican tertiary and an experienced spiritual theologian.
Julienne met with Canon Labrecque for the first time on January 26th, 1941. Little by little, she opened up to him in order to discern God's will for her. Without knowing it, Julienne had just met the one that Providence intended to become not only her spiritual father, but also the collaborator chosen by God to help her in the foundation of a new religious institute.
For Julienne, the most important stage of her life had started, a period of deep purification, but also one in which she received decisive lights for her life and for the mission that would be entrusted to her.
On Maundy Thursday, April 2nd, 1942, Julienne understood the mystery of the Last Supper, the summit of the life of the Lord, of his life of love, of his gift of himself. Up to now, by means of the Gospel of the Samaritan woman, she had understood that Jesus in the Eucharist was the gift of God. On this Maundy Thursday, she understood with what immense love Jesus gives himself in the Eucharist. By the institution, on that evening, of the Sacrament of love, he gave himself, so to speak, a new life: a sacramental life.
She understood here that "if we honor in a particular way this act of love, Our Lord will introduce us into his Heart and make us live of his life ".
On this occasion and afterwards in other experiences, Julienne discovered that it is his very Heart that the Lord gives us in the Host. He gives us his Heart so that we may love as he does and through him, glorifying the Father and all the Trinity in him, and offering ourselves with him for the life of the world.
From this new understanding, Julienne developed an intense need to make Jesus known in his act of love of the Last Supper.
She also understood that the Heart of Christ, giving himself in the Eucharist where he is present, contains the love of the Father, of the Son and of the Spirit, and that the Eucharist is Christ in all his mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption. She understood that the purpose of Our Lord’s presence on earth, in his Eucharist, is to make us share in his interior life, so that through him, the Holy Trinity may be glorified.
Over the next eighteen months, Julienne received abundant light in her understanding both of the sacrifice of the Mass in which we are called to offer ourselves with Jesus, and of the role of the Virgin Mary, mysteriously present at the altar as a mediatrix before God.
Foundress of a new community
While Julienne penetrated more and more into this mystery of the immense love of the Heart of Jesus giving himself in the Eucharist, she constantly received more precise indications concerning the will of the Lord for her. God seemed to want to entrust to her the foundation of a new community, the Dominican Missionary Adorers, whose mission would be to live this spirituality and to be its apostles.
For Julienne and for her spiritual director, the evidence was clear. A report was presented by Canon Labrecque to Cardinal Jean-Marie-Rodrigue Villeneuve, o.m.i., archbishop of Quebec city. Cardinal Villeneuve contacted Julienne, questioned her and acquired the conviction that this project really came from God.
And so on April 30th, 1945, on the feast of Saint Catherine of Siena, together with Canon Labrecque and three other young women, Julienne (then aged almost 34) offered herself for the reign of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. Cardinal Villeneuve blessed the founding group and said: "It is a great undertaking that begins today. It is wanted by God and it will live".
The new institute settled in Beauport, a suburb of Quebec city, and took the name of “Society of the Eucharistic Heart”. The new foundation would be erected canonically on October 7th, 1948, under the name of the Dominican Missionary Adorers. On this occasion, Julienne – who had become Mother Julienne of the Rosary - and her first collaborator, Colette Brousseau, pronounced their perpetual vows.
From the foundation to her last years
Feeling herself to be profoundly "mother" to her daughters whom she loved and admired, the foundress encouraged the blossoming of the gifts and charisms of each of the sisters, enthusiastically welcoming their spiritual discoveries and initiatives. In the governance of the Congregation, she gave her complete trust to her co-workers.
She visited the various communities, either in Canada or abroad, where the sisters were working, providing encouragement and the support of her love. She was also very attentive to the people living in these areas, considering them as her "extended family".
Although the greater part of the spirituality had been given to her between 1942-1945, Mother Julienne gradually discovered in it new aspects and riches, understanding especially how to embody it ever more profoundly in her life. She thus led not only her daughters along these paths, but also an ever-growing number of people from outside the community.
During almost fifty years, Mother Julienne of the Rosary directed the destiny of the Dominican Missionary Adorers with discernment, audacity and courage. She was assisted faithfully by her companion of the first days, Mother Colette Brousseau, as well as by generations of women who came to join her as the years went by.
What particularly impressed in Mother Julienne was her intense love of Christ as well as the wealth and depth of the teaching she dispensed throughout the years. By means of regular talks, she enabled the sisters of the community to enter ever more profoundly into communion with the Christian mystery under its various aspects, and especially, with the Eucharistic mystery, the "gift of God" flowing ceaselessly from the Heart of Christ.
Mother Julian drew her teaching from her own life and formed the sisters in the spirituality of her own particular spiritual experiences and of the lights she had received from them. But she also did so from her constant “chewing” of the Word of God, especially in the texts of the liturgy of the day.
In her talks to her sisters and later, to other people who wished to learn this spirituality, Mother Julienne pointed the way to the simple, though demanding, paths of sanctification. She sought gently to lead people to respond to the "Love that gives itself", by giving themselves in love as Jesus did, at whatever the cost.
When she wished to help us understand how we can adore in spirit and in truth, she insisted on the importance of entering into the sentiments of Christ and of making of our lives a loving and active search for God's will, just as he did.
Moreover, that is what Mother Julian did herself, day after day and year after year, throughout her life. Pursued by her deepest thirst, that of responding to the request of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus that we should honor his act of love on Maundy Thursday, she wanted to love and give herself up as he did in finem, to the end. (cf. Jn 13, 1).
Mother Julienne occasionally gave talks to lay people belonging to some groups that met regularly in the Cenacle of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus - the Mother House of the community - in Beauport.
Sometimes priests also learned from her teachings. Mother Julienne kept a very special place for priests in her heart and in her life of prayer and sacrifice, and invited her daughters to do the same. She often repeated the statement that the priesthood came out of the Heart of the Christ on Maundy Thursday at the same time as the Eucharist.
The ardent apostle of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus
Mother Julienne ardently desired to give the Heart of Christ to all the people who approached her, and even beyond. From the very beginning of the foundation, she had reserved all her Sunday afternoons to welcoming the many people who wished to come and meet her. They mostly asked for advice, or begged her to intercede for them before the Lord.
Mother Julian at times gently said to some: "You ask me to pray for you. But do you pray? Do you go to Sunday Mass?" When the answer showed a certain estrangement, she added delicately and with great tenderness: "Are you conscious of what you are missing?"
The end of her life
From September 1991 up to her death at the beginning of 1995, Mother Julienne entered a period of illness and of profound purification. Her most intense desire, which she often expressed, was to die in an act of perfect love. And the Lord was to prepare her for this by mysterious dispossessions.
Some years before the end, she had stated: "I wanted my life to be a Mass, I fed it with daily Mass. I look upon my death as a last Mass that will continue in an eternal "Love and glory to the Trinity through the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus!" This is my life!" These words, filled with meaning, summarize her life indeed.
And yet, even at this painful time, she was always happy to spend time with her daughters and with the people who came to visit her. She wanted to pass on to them something of the fire that consumed her.
For even when she was ill, her heart was always aflame with an intense apostolic fire. In 1993, she said: "My life is ending, but only in appearance; my mission is going to begin, my mission to seek for adorers. I hope to spread the fire of Eucharistic Love in the world with my daughters, wherever they will be, to spread the devotion to the Eucharistic Heart, so as to make Our Lord loved in his sacrament of love ".
On January 3rd, 1995, a few days before her death, she shared these words with one of the sisters: "It is rather funny what I am experiencing this year about the Magi: it is as if I saw them coming, it is as if I guided them, as if I helped them to walk straight towards the cradle of Jesus. The star of faith awakens in them. They are going to follow it and to recognize Jesus, to love him, to offer him presents." Until her last breath, Mother Julienne wanted to guide people towards Jesus, towards his Eucharistic Heart.
The last offering
On the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6th, early in the morning, she began her agony. In her room during the course of the morning, surrounded by her daughters, she participated in the celebration of a last Mass. An hour later, her final act of love was indeed offered to God in total dispossession of everything. She thus ended the Mass of her life to awaken - we have the inner conviction of it - to the eternal Offering of the Son to the Father.
Her funeral took place in the church of the Nativity of Our Lady in the district of Beauport, Quebec. For three days, her coffin was visited by thousands of people who had come to see her for the last time.
The then archbishop of Quebec, Mgr. Maurice Couture, r.s.v., accompanied by nearly a hundred priests, presided. The vast nave of the church was full, in spite of the Siberian cold that reigned outside.
The homily, pronounced by a great friend of Mother Julienne, Father Jean-Marie Côté, C.Ss.R., ended with these words which indeed summarize something of the mystery of this " Woman of Light and Fire":
"Julienne du Rosaire: a combination of frailty and strength, of weekness and grandeur, of simplicity and audacity, of intuition and reflection, of freshness and depth, of delicacy and intensity, of seriousness and an easy smile, of a quality of listening and speaking, of prayer and action, of intense concern for truth and of compassion; with eyes that were penetrating, unforgettable, shining with a light from above. Julienne du Rosaire: so very much with us yet always totally drawn towards the Father, toward the Son and the Holy Spirit."