A member of the nobility, she was taught by the Bernardine Sisters and later the Ursuline Sisters. at 19, she made her debut into society. The young socialite enjoyed the parties, and was even presented at the French court of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
But the lifestyle soon lost its charm. When her mother died in 1784, Francoise returned home. She went to daily Mass and gave her time to charitable works. During the French Revolution, she and her family were among the nobility imprisoned and sentenced to death. But within days before their execution, Maximilien de Robespierre (a revolutionist behind the Reign of Terror) was overthrown. Francoise and her family were freed.
She returned to visiting the sick and poor, and soon met a paralyzed woman named Julie Billiart. Julie's illness had impaired her speech, and Francoise was uncomfortable visiting her. But gradually they became friends, and Francoise told Julie of her dream to join the Carmelites.
Francoise never did become a Carmelite. Instead she and Julie Billiart co-founded the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, a religious community which educated young girls (especially the poor) and trained teachers. As the community's superior general, Francoise compiled its rules and constitutions.
Because people would consult Sr. Julie Billiart in their charitable efforts, she is the patron saint for those who work to eliminate poverty.
- Little Black Book, Diocese of Saginaw