Sister Joan Chittister is Heroic

“It was a sense of Divine Light in all things that kept the Jewish convert Edith Stein strong in the face of death at the hands of the Nazis; and Joan of Arc unyielding to the churchmen who condemned her for following her conscience rather than being obedient to them; and Galileo faithful even in the midst of rejection by a church intent on smothering modern science in the name of faith; and Dorothy Day implacable in her pursuit of peace in a country that called her “communist” for doing it.

Spiritual leaders like these remember what so many of us far too often forget:

Christians are not people of the cross. Christians are people of the empty tomb, the ones who know that every step on the way to the Light is Light.”___Sister Joan Chittister

Composer Irene Buckley’s new score accompanies Carl Dreyer’s “The Passion of Jeanne d’Arc”

For this specially commissioned cine-concert, composer Irene Buckley has used the text and the structure of the Requiem Mass, to create an evocative new work scored for soprano (Emma Nash), organ (Rhoda Dullea) and electronics. The Cork-born composer’s pieces are characterised by the dynamic interplay between medieval and contemporary composition and have been performed in locations from Carnegie Hall to Muziekgebouw (Amsterdam). With its raw emotional power, evocative setting and haunting score,The Passion of Joan of Arc is an awe-inspiring evening of music and film. (Excerpt from the film with music by Irene Buckley)


Although Richard Einhorn’s powerful oratorio, “Voices of Light” accompanies Carl Dreyer’s silent film, “The Passion of Jeanne d’Arc” on DVD and in live concerts, other composers are offering new scores, intended to inspire audiences who attend viewings of Dreyer’s masterpiece.


Joan of Arc (1412 – 1431) is the patron of France and of soldiers. Born to peasant parents in the village of Domremy, Joan (or Jehanne, as she signed her name in French) began to hear the voices (and sometimes see some kind of vision) of St Michael, St Catherine and St Margaret when she was thirteen. At first, they simply urged her to develop her piety but eventually began to direct her to become involved in the struggle to bring Charles, son of King Charles VI, to the contested French throne.

Obediently, 17-year old Joan traveled to the French court, took on male attire, and persisted in making her way through the layers of bureaucracy by predicting the outcome of certain military operations and then by recognizing the king in his disguise. She convinced him to allow her to command an army, and using a sword that had been buried behind the altar of St Catherine de Fierbois, she led her army to a spectacular victory over the English at Orleans. Charles’ supporters were reinvigorated by the inspiration of this armored Maid of Orleans, and after a string of victories, Charles was crowned at the Cathedral in Rheims with Joan in attendance.

She laid down her arms on the altar of St Denis after being shot through the thigh with a crossbow but went back to the field one more time. At Compegnie, Joan was trapped outside the castle, dragged from her horse, and promptly sold to the English with no intervention by Charles. Held in a secular prison guarded by English soldiers, she continued to wear male clothing for protection. The Inquisition was called in.

After nearly five months of testimony, beginning with charges of witchcraft and ending with a conviction of engaging in cross-dressing, Joan was condemned a heretic at nineteen, and she was burned at the stake in Rouen on May 30, 1431.  A new trial by the Church in 1450 overturned her conviction and declared Joan to be a martyr. She was canonized (declared a saint) in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV, who called her a “most brilliant shining light” of God. Her story has been the subject of hundreds of books, plays, musical compositions, and art.

Prayer for Joan of Arc: In the face of your enemies, in the face of harassment, ridicule, and doubt, you held firm in your faith. Even in your abandonment, alone and without friends, you held firm in your faith. Even as you faced your own mortality, you held firm in your faith. I pray that I may be as bold in my beliefs as you, St. Joan. I ask that you ride along beside me in my own battles. Help me be mindful that what is worthwhile can be won when I persist. Help me hold firm in my faith. Help me believe in my ability to act well and wisely. Amen.

–Penny Nash (from article )


Thank you to Goodreads group, “Shut up and read!” and to Jen, for this great review!


February 20, 2012
This was an amazing book. I have always been very interested in the story and life of Joan of Arc, and I greedily gobble up any bit of information I can read on her. Ever since the first time my grandma showed me the painting of Joan by Jules Bastien-Lepage, I have been entranced by this amazing person. This book was full of interesting information about Joan, and I especially enjoyed that Joan’s own 15th century trial testimony was used. In the synopsis I read that the author has a decade of research under her belt in preparing for and writing this book, and this fact definitely comes through in the reading. Magnificently written, and the full color photos were an added bonus…very beautiful. I would recommend this book to anyone who has a deep interest in Saint Joan, anyone who has no idea what Joan’s story is, and would like to learn more about her, and everyone in between. Thank you for a wonderful book!

“The Passion of Jeanne d’Arc” and Nick Cave

THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC is certainly Dreyer’s finest hour, and Cave’s heartfelt tribute turned it into a truly extraordinary experience; quite simply the most emotional and physically draining experience I’ve witnessed at the cinema. Dreyer’s film is based on two novels by Joseph Delteil on the original transcript of this infamous trial. Delteil assisted Dreyer with the screenplay, but there’s little doubt that the court records set the tone for this harrowing film. THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC is composed almost entirely of close-ups, and the final stages of the trial – along with Joan’s execution – are dominated by the face of Renee (‘Marie’) Falconetti. The plight of the woman who claimed she was sent by God to save France is indelibly printed on Falconetti’s tortured visage; indeed her performance is so intense, it seems as though she was actually possessed by the spirit of this revered Saint. As Joan is tortured and humiliated by the ‘devil’s agents’ en route to her eventual confession, Falconetti cries what are so obviously real tears. This has to be a real contender for the most courageous performance ever given by an actress, and I was astonished to learn that this was her first and last film. Reports indicate she received help and advice from her director along every step of the way but, ultimately, Renee Falconetti must have felt more alone than any woman in silver screen history. Her overwhelming presence makes this a painful viewing experience, and Dreyer’s obsessive approach to his subject matter is still guaranteed to disturb, even in an age where we think we’ve seen everything. Falconetti’s inner strength, her unparalleled suffering and eventual despair manage to cross that often impenetrable barrier between screen and audience, forcing us to feel her pain and, occasionally recoil in horror. The scene where Joan is ‘bled’ so that she may live to deny her faith is extremely graphic, drawing gasps from an incredulous audience and when her execution takes place, the band stop playing and become as one with the packed auditorium who are stunned by this tragic history lesson.
Cave has gone on record as saying this is his all-time favourite film and it showed, Nick! Here, The Dirty Three offered mostly understated background support, with smoldering violin and guitar anchored down by Jim White’s steady beat. Occasionally, the boys really put their feet on the pedals, responding to Dreyer’s disturbing visuals with all the brutality of prime-time Bad Seeds. However, it was the quieter moments that really left a scar: Cave’s beautifully fragile piano, his wordless vocals which often mutate into a haunting ‘This is my desire’ refrain, and his unerring ability to correctly call when the music should stop. A prime example of this came near the end of the film, when Joan is burnt at the stake. As the flames rise, a deathly silence envelopes the NFT, as we watch the crowd who gathered to witness the execution suddenly realise the enormity of this obscene act and openly revolt. It’s then that Cave chooses to deliver his only song of the evening; a plaintive vocal which addresses “God’s non-intervention”.

Orleans (calendar of events) in celebration of the 600th anniversary of Joan of Arc’s birth

Throughout 2012, there will be tributes, reinactments, expositions and modern shows following one from one another, to pay respect to this internationally renowned historical figure. The traditional ceremonies will come to its climax around the 12th and 13th of May.




Febr. 12, 1429: “The Battle of the Herrings” and its importance in Joan of Arc’s Life Story Part of the Hundred Years’ War (And the Siege of Orléans

Joan knew about the French army’s loss of the “Battle of the Herrings” before the news reached officials in Vaucouleurs, where Joan waited impatiently to be given permission to begin her mission (to ride to Chinon with armed escorts, meet with Charles the dauphin, and be granted the right to lead French troops, where she guaranteed the successful raising of the siege of Orleans.) No one could comprehend how Jehanne, La Pucelle gained access to this information. It had come to her through “revelation” (she had been told of it by her angelic counselors.

Morale within the city and among its leaders was at a low point, so much so that consideration was given to surrendering the city.


The Battle of the Herrings was the most significant military action during the siege of Orléans from its inception in October of 1428 until the appearance on the scene, in May of the following year, of Joan of Arc. Even so, it was, to all appearances, a rather minor engagement and, were it not for the context in which it occurred, would most likely have been relegated to the merest of footnotes in military history or even forgotten altogether.

But not only was it part of one of the most famous siege actions in history, the story also gained currency that it played a pivotal role in convincing Robert de Baudricourt in Vaucouleurs, to accede to Joan’s demand for support and safe conduct to Chinon. For it was on the very day (February 12, 1429) of the battle that Joan met with de Baudricourt for the final time. According to the story, recounted in several places (for example, in Sackville-West), Joan gave out the information that “the Dauphin’s arms had that day suffered a great reverse near Orléans”. When, several days later, news of the military setback near Rouvrey did in fact reach Vaucouleurs, de Baudricourt, according to the story, relented and agreed to sponsor her journey to the Dauphin in Chinon. Joan finally left Vaucouleurs for Chinon on the 23rd of February, 1429.”

Celebrating Black Women: WWII Army battallion honors Joan of Arc in the place where she was burned at the stake

Members of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion take part in a parade ceremony May 27, 1945, in honor of Joan d’Arc at the marketplace where she was burned at the stake.

Domremy; Where it all began…(2012 cultural events celebrating Joan of Arc, in France)

“This year it is six hundred years since a young peasant girl, the last or second last child in a family of 5, was born in the little village of Domremy, in the Champagne area and duchy of Lorraine. From this tiny, anodyne and banal event, unnoticed by many history sources, was born one of the biggest and more fascinating sagas of the French Middle Ages, if not the history of all of France.”