Bl. Giulia’s parents were Anselmo Valle and Cristina Dalbar. She was born in Aosta, Italy on the 26th June 1847, and was baptised on the same day in the ancient collegiate church of Saint Orso.
Bl. Giulia spent the first years of her life within a happy family with her brother Vincent. The parents’ worked running a milliner’s shop, and the commercial activity provided a modicum of security.
For uncertain causes, Cristina passed away when Bl. Giulia was only four. The two orphans were thus entrusted first to the care of their paternal relatives in Aosta and later to the maternal ones in Donnas. Here, they found a calm environment. The school, catechism and the preparation for the sacraments took place at home under the guidance of a priest who happened to be a family friend.
When Giulia turned eleven, she was sent to France in Besançon, to a boarding school run by the Sisters of Charity, where she continued her schooling. Her separation from the family created a new suffering, a new experiences of solitude directed her towards a deeper friendship with “the Lord who keeps her mother.”
In Besançon, Bl. Giulia became fluent in French, enriched her soul and became skilful in housework. Her simple goodness matured and rendered her loveable and attentive towards the others.
Five years later, Giulia returns to her valley, but her house at Donnas was no longer there. Her father had married again and moved to Pont Saint Martin. Here the familiar situation was strained and living together was challenging. Her brother, Vincent, refused her company. He went away without leaving the family any word of him. Giulia remained, and in her solitude received the grace to provide charity to those experiencing loneliness.
During that period, the sisters of Charity came to settle at Pont Saint Martin. In them, Giulia rediscovered her teachers of Besançon, the daughters of Saint Jeanne-Antide Thouret, who gave her help and encouragement. She was deeply attracted to their way of life and generously offered herself to God by choosing to become one of them. When her father presented her the suggestion of a prosperous marriage, Bl. Giulia’s singular desire was to become a Sister of Charity.
On the 8th September 1866, her father accompanied her to the Monastery of Santa Margherita in Vercelli where the Sisters of Charity run a novitiate.
A new, peaceful and joyful life started for her in spite of the separation. It’s now a matter of building a deeper relationship with God, of knowing herself and the mission of the community in order to accomplish God’s will. Every day she discovers what she must lose or acquire: “Jesus strip me of myself, let me be wrapped in you. Jesus I live for you, and I die for you…”
Upon the completion of her novitiate, together with the new habit she received a new name: Sr. Nemesia. She was named after one of the earliest martyrs of the church.
Bl. Giulia was sent to Tortona, in St. Vincent’s Institute where she founded several institutions: an elementary school, cultural courses, a boarding school and an orphanage. She taught courses in the elementary school and French in the higher classes. Sr. Nemesia was present where humble work had to be done, where apprehension hindered good relationships, and where fatigue, pain and poverty put limits to life.
It was said of her within the institute and in the city: “Oh, the heart of Sr. Nemesia!” Everyone was convinced that there was a particular place in her heart which knew no boundaries. Sisters, orphans, pupils, families, poor, the clergy of the nearby seminary, young soldiers of the numerous barracks of Tortona turned to her as we turn to Christ.
When she was nominated superior of the community at the age of forty, she recalled that being be a superior means “to serve.” Thus she humbly assented to guiding the Community’s programs. One of her motto’s was, “Keep a quick pace, without looking behind and concentrate on the one goal: God Alone! To Him the glory, to the others joy, for me to pay the price. Never make others suffer. I shall be very strict with myself and full of charity towards the others. Love, gratuitously offered, is the only thing that remains.”
On the morning of the 10th of May 1903, the orphans and boarders found a message addressed to them from Sr. Nemesia: “I am leaving happily; I entrust you to our Lady… I shall follow you in every moment of the day.” She passed away at 4 o’clock in the morning, after 36 years.
In Borgaro, a small country in the vicinity of Turin, there is a small group of young girls waiting to be accompanied along a new path, towards the total self-gift to God and to serve him later in the poor. They are the novices of the new province of the Sisters of Charity. The method of Bl. Giulia’s formation remained always the same: that of kindness, self-renouncement out of love, patience and finding the correct way that is convenient to everyone.
Her novices recalled, “She knew each one of us, she understood our needs, and she treated us according to our characters. Sister Nemesia accepted every reproach and humiliation with serenity, smiling as she went ahead, without hurrying and without neglecting her responsibilities: “From one station to the other, let us continue our way in the desert…and if the desert is deaf, your Creator is always listening…”