Saturday, January 07, 2012

France proclaims 600th anniversary of Joan of Arc

France proclaims 600th anniversary of Joan of Arc 

President Sarkozy will travel to Domremy, the village said to have been her birthplace, where he will unveil a plaque in the home where she is thought to have been born. 

Mr Sarkozy will also visit Vaucouleurs, also in the Vosges mountains of eastern France, where Joan of Arc began her campaign to push the English out of France and put Charles VII on the throne.

Mr Sarkozy and far-right leader Marine Le Pen are battling over the mantle of the French patron saint Joan of Arc, a surprise player in the upcoming presidential election. 
The two leaders are to stage rival celebrations of the 600th anniversary of the birth of the 15th-century Catholic martyr who has been appropriated by the far-right partly for her booting out of medieval English "immigrants".
The teenage peasant led the French army against the English after experiencing religious visions and was later burned at the stake, but her broad appeal to French of all political colours has ensured her immortality. 600 year anniversary of Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc Revealed

By Jeff Nisbet

On May 30, 1431, a young girl was burned alive for heresy and witchcraft in Rouen, France. 

According to one account of the day, when she had succumbed to the flames the fire “was raked back, and her naked body shown to all the people, and all the secrets that could or should belong to a woman, to take away any doubts from people’s minds. When they had stared long enough at her dead body bound to the stake, the executioner got a big fire going again round her poor carcass, which was soon burned, both flesh and bone reduced to ashes.”
Although history tells us the victim was Joan of Arc, a simple shepherdess known then as Joan the Maid, the account of her execution shows even her gender was in doubt at the time—a doubt put to rest perhaps just a tad too neatly in the historical record.

Joan deserves a closer look.

Born on January 6, 1412, Joan is one of history's best-documented figures—hardly surprising considering that the records of her several trials still survive.
At age 13, a "voice" told Joan she had been chosen by the “King of Heaven” to bring “reparation to the kingdom of France, and help and protection to King Charles.”

One of the suspiciously precise details we know about Joan is her exact time of birth—one hour after sunset on January 6, a day variously known as the Feast of the Epiphany, the Day of the Three Kings, and the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Surprisingly, neither Joan’s mother nor any other witnesses at the “nullification” trial mentions that Joan’s birthday was an official holy day. Joan of Arc Revealed

Happy Three King's Day
Today is January 6th or Three Kings Day or Day of the Ephiphany

Epiphany (Greek: επιφάνεια, "the appearance; miraculous phenomenon") is a Christian feast intended to celebrate the 'shining forth' or revelation of God to mankind in human form, in the person of Jesus. The observance had its origins in the eastern Christian churches, and included the birth of Jesus; the visit of the three Magi, or Wise Men (traditionally named Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar) who arrived in Bethlehem; and all of Jesus' childhood events, up to his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist. The feast was initially based on, and viewed as a fulfillment of, the Jewish Feast of Lights. This was fixed on January 6.
 "Twelfth Night" is a reference to the twelfth night after Christmas Day, called the Eve of the Feast of Epiphany. It was originally a Catholic holiday but, prior to Shakespeare's play, had become a day of revelry. Servants often dressed up as their masters, men as women and so forth. Twelfth Night

Jean Seberg as Joan of Arc in the 1957 film Saint Joan. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty Images

Joan of Arc at 600: the best of role models

As we celebrate the 600th anniversary of Joan of Arc's birth, let's remember what she stood for, because she is one of us

At the opening of his 1916 silent film Joan the Woman, Hollywood grandee Cecil B DeMille introduced the French hero Joan of Arc as "the girl patriot who fought with men, was loved by men and killed by men, yet retained the heart of a woman". A warrior at 16, a saint at 19, Joan – or Jeanne, to us French – is the world's first pop icon. Groovier than the Virgin Mary, sexier than the Mona Lisa, she has been a star ever since she told the English to go to hell in the late 1420s, and fans throughout the world are today celebrating the 600th anniversary of her birth.
How many historical figures can lay claim to having inspired more than a dozen biopics since the beginning of cinema? The latest one, Jeanne Captive, has just been released in France. And that's just films. Her frail figure in armour, carved in marble and stone, graces the streets of New Orleans, Washington, Paris, Montreal, among a hundred other cities. Ingres painted her; Verdi, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Honeger wrote operas dedicated to her. In theatre, the farmer's daughter inspired Von Schiller, George Bernard Shaw, Bertold Brecht, Paul Claudel and Jean Anouilh. A 1990s famous Japanese rock band called itself Janne Dar Arc, and several video games have enrolled the pretty but chaste fighter as their leading protagonist. For good measure, let us not forget to mention Leonard Cohen among his greatest fans: in "Joan of Arc", he huskily sings "I love your solitude, I love your pride, my cold and lonesome heroine".
Jeanne is indeed a fascinating figure, all the more so if you are French. Aged 12, I went through a mystical period when I feared I may, too, have to be burned at the stake for my country's sake. I had just cut my long hair very short and looked a little like Ingrid Bergman as Jeanne in Roberto Rossellini's film, or Jean Seberg in Oto Preminger's own version. I got slightly mixed up between the hundred years war and the French Resistance during the second world war, confusing the perfidious English with Nazi Germans along the way, but how could you blame me when even Winston Churchill had nicknamed Charles de Gaulle "Jeanne d'Arc"?
My confusion didn't last long as, a year later, the extremist-right National Front emerged on the French political scene, highjacking the lovely and audacious girl as their effigy. She suddenly became a political enemy; from hero, she became foe. For my generation, traumatised by the rise of Jean-Marie Le Pen's party, she suddenly represented chauvinism in its nastiest form. From a freedom fighter, she became a hater of foreigners. She could have no place in our hearts.
We were fools. The left should have fought hard to reclaim Jeanne. She is not, as the extreme right historiography would have us believe, a royalist Catholic die-hard. She is a people's girl, betrayed by the king and burned by the church. In other words, she's a feisty little punk who paid for her audacity with her life. Let's say it loud and clear today, Jeanne is one of us! 2012/jan/06/joan-of-arc-600-anniversary

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