Julienne de CORNILLON (1193-1258)

Julienne de Cornillon
Iconographie chretienne

Orphaned at a young age, she and her sister Agnès are entrusted to the house of Cornillon, at the entrance to Liège. This house was opened next to the Premonstratensian abbey. Julienne will be part of a community of beguines caring for lepers in the leprosarium of Mount Cornillon. This leprosarium has four parts, two of which are for healthy brothers and sisters caring for the sick in the other two parts. The double intervention, municipal and ecclesiastical, on this institution will provoke conflicts and tension especially when Julienne will exercise the functions of prioress. This period is very hard for her who would have humbly wanted to stay on the farm of the community, to meditate the Scriptures in French and Latin, to turn to the books of St. Augustine and St. Bernard. The conflict reaches the point that she must even go away with two other companions in a Cistercian monastery at Fosses, near Namur, where she will live as a recluse until her death in 1258.
Following a vision, she promotes the feast of the Corpus Christi. She involves in this project Isabelle de Huy, beguine of a great reputation for holiness, and Eve of Saint Martin. There is a first mention of it in 1246, on the occasion of the first celebration of this feast in Liege by the new bishop Robert de Thourotte. The Corpus Christi feast will then be prescribed, in 1264, to the whole church by Urban IV (the former archdeacon of Liège, Jacques Pantaléon) in his papal Bull Transiturus de hoc mundo. The first texts of the celebration had originally been dictated by Julienne herself, but the task was then entrusted to the more famous Thomas Aquinas. The symposium organized in Breda in 2014 on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the Bull by the Guilde of the Holy Sacreemnt of Niervaert has revealed an important information. American scientists have recently discovered that the texts of the Office of the famous theologian are largely taken from Julienne ‘s works.
An anonymous author, in whom some recognize her friend recluse Eve of Saint Martin, wrote, the “Vitae beatae Julianae“. From there we learn that she enjoyed the gift of healing and prophecy and that she could “see” what is obscure to the intelligence of ordinary mortals.
Source: Delhez Charles (sous la directon de), Julienne de Cornillon, éd. Fidélité, Namur, 1996.