Italy 1931

Sharing deeply the two characteristic loves of Saint Julie Billiart:  a love of the Church and a love of the poor, Mother Maria Julienne cherished the desire to open a Notre Dame school at the center of Christendom and to devote this foundation to the education of children living in poverty. The Chapter of 1928 approved this foundation. In 1929, Mother Maria Julienne and Sister Gertrude of the Immaculate Conception, Provincial of the British Province, went to Rome to obtain permission to open a house in the Diocese of Rome. 

For the sisters, they found Villa Certosa, a property of three acres. In December 1930, Sister Mathilde Bertrand (from Belgium) and, Sisters Anthony Antoniazzi and Winifred Harris (from Great Britain) arrived in Rome.  They moved into Villa Certosa on January 19, 1931 and began their formal study of the Italian language.  Sister Anna of Ste Thérèse Haas replaced Sister Winifred.  The first community was completed with the arrival of Sister Gerard of St. Joseph Killoran (of Great Britain), Sister Imelda of the Passion Naets (of Belgium) and two Americans: Sisters Ann Ignatia  McCormick and Catherine Aloyse O’Donnell. 

The school opened in October 1931 with two nursery school classes. In the following years, the school expanded its classes to a pre-primary and elementary school.  Continuing the mission of Saint Julie, the school continues today to reach out to those living in poverty.