A Look at “The Passion of Joan of Arc” Part 7/8

A.M.D.G.
J.M.J.
A.T.C.

Laudetur Iesus Christus!

Monday of the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time (Memorial Day)

Well, I have given up on finding Michael. Maybe one of my friends is right when she wrote on my Facebook that maybe I lost the medal so that someone else who needs him will find him. Regardless, Imma get a new one because I don’t feel whole without Michael with me. Though I am still wracking my brain as to how I lost him to begin with! BAH! Hopefully, I’ll be able to go this week to see if one of my brick and mortar Church places has the one I want. If not, I have two websites that have him in stock.

I hope you all took the time today to realize and remember that today is not about barbeques and putzing … it’s about remembering and honoring those who have died in defense of our country and the freedoms we so take for granted. My brother is a veteran so all these holidays honoring the military mean something special to me. Say a prayer for the repose of the souls of all those who have died for our country to the present day.

Now, onto bid-ness.

We are heading into the home stretch of “The Passion of Joan of Arc;” she has signed her abjuration and then taken it back. Now all there is left is to see how her judges will react to her recantation and what happens to her because of it. Sure, we know how it ends but I think that this is a beautiful portrayal of the final moments of Joan of Arc’s earthly life. And to think, she died at 19. How many teenage girls can say that by 19 they had heard voices and had visions from God to save their home country from foreign usurpers, convinced authorities that she is legit, led armies and won a bunch of victories, end up captured, put on trial for heresy and apostasy, and then burned at the stake? Just one. Oh, and she’s a saint too.

Here is the libretto, we are at the section labeled “Relapse.” Joan has just told the judges that she takes back all that she said in her abjuration because she has lied. Now, we watch how this scene develops and how the judges react to her relapse. You may be surprised by it.

The scene immediately opens with Joan weeping profusely and saying that she has committed a grave sin. She says that she has “denied God to save [her] life.” The judge tries to reason with her saying that she has confessed in front of everyone that it was not her fault but rather that it was the Devil that led her into her sin. Joan tearfully shakes her head indicating that all that she said was a lie in order to save her life.

As the scene progresses, note how the expressions on the judges faces are changing and also in the “tone” of what they say to her. They are no longer using her as their own comedic device to stroke their egos or to corner her with their superior intellects.

The judge asks her if she still believes that she was sent by God (though the French says “the Lord” … I know … same diff but I like things literal).

Joan sighs and looks to the ground. The weight of her answer is indicated by what Jean Massieu says to the scribe who is transcribing the dialogue,

Her answer will bring her death.

Which it ultimately does.

Joan’s blank look is not one of defeat but one of realization that now she is fulfilling what God wants her to do and it will cost her life.

As we begin to see one of the judge’s reaction (the one who earlier spat on her and insulted her), we hear strains of:

Love
overflows into all things,
From out of the depths to above the
highest stars;
And so Love overflows into all best
beloved, most loving things,
Because she has given to the highest King.
(“The Kiss of Peace” by Saint Hildegard von Bingen)

Joan continues with her confession,

Everything I said was for fear of the stake.

This demonstrates Joan’s humanity that even though she was sent by God and He did give her the grace to do His will; she still feared for her life. The basic human drive for self-preservation kicked in. It just shows how God uses even the most human of us to do wonderful and beautiful things. Who would have thought that a young illiterate shepherd girl would have such an impact on the history of a whole nation? Because of Joan’s heroism, France was saved from English control. Had France fallen into English hands, she would have been under the direct influence of one Henry VIII when he decided that he knew better than God and His Church. The line of history would have been changed dramatically had France fallen under Protestantism instead of remaining the Eldest Daughter of the Church for a little while longer.

Having made her confession and basically sealed her fate, the head judge asks her if she has anything else to say. She shakes her head to the negative.

Then the camera shows the reactions of the judges who are saddened. These same judges who enjoyed making sport out of her. These same judges who had such a vendetta for Joan are now crying because to them, her relapse is her damning her soul to Hell. If only they truly knew and believed.

The judges leave the room crestfallen. Jean Massieu and the other brother/priest remain to keep her company and to prepare her for death. She looks at them and asks, “Already?” Jean sighs a “oui” (yes). She asks how she is to die. They answer that she is to die by the stake.

The brother with Jean says that he will go and bring Viaticum for her. Notice how Jean’s hands are writhing a bit on the bed posts. He is in anguish because he knows that Joan is innocent and all that she has said is true.

A female solist sings:

…The Spirit flowing and melting with love.
(“There are Seven Manners of Loving” Beatrice of Nazareth, 13th century)

He asks her,

[Tell me], [h]ow can you still believe that you are sent by God?

She responds,

His ways are not our ways.

It is at this moment that he comes to the full realization that this girl before him is most certainly genuine. No person who is putting on an act would be willing to face the stake with the conviction that she possesses.

She then says that she is a child of God.

The soloist continues through this scene:

This soul has fallen from love into nothingness.
(Marguerite Porete, 14th century member of the Free Spirit Movement who was burned at the stake)

and

… The Spirit madly possessed by violent desire …
… Only through everlasting Love is it
drawn into the eternity of Love.
…The Spirit flowing and melting with Love.
(Beatrice of Nazareth)

Jean then asks her about the “great victory.”

To which she responds,

My martyrdom!

He asks about her deliverance.

She answers,

Death!

We then see the procession as the Blessed Sacrament is brought to Joan as her Viaticum.

Jean asks her if she would like to make her confession so that she can receive Holy Communion in a state of grace.

She lights up and says “oui” and Jean approaches to hear her confession.

We then get another shot of the procession as it makes its way to Joan’s cell. It goes through town and we see the people on their knees before the Real Presence. If only there still was such prevalent reverence for Him.

Joan is still making her confession as we get a shot of men preparing the stake with a sign that says: “Relapsed Heretic, Apostate, (I don’t know what the last word in French is … it looks like “Idolater”).” Parallel to Christ’s sign on the Cross: “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum” much?

As the Blessed Sacrament is brought in, the chorus sings:

… The Spirit flowing and melting with love
…Only through everlasting Love is it
drawn into the eternity of Love
…The Spirit flowing and melting with Love
… Only through everlasting Love is it
drawn into the eternity of Love.
(Beatrice of Nazareth)

As the procession enters her cell, her expression becomes one of serenity and peace. Of course, when one is in the Presence of Peace Himself, how could one not be soothed?

We then get a shot of the square being cleared of the festivities in preparation for Joan’s execution.

The entire procession finally congregates in her cell as the priest with the Blessed Sacrament enters.

Then we see soldiers manning the gates of the city, knowing that there will be trouble when she is brought out to be burned. Already we see a swarm of people running to the gate to come see Joan.

We see the priest uncover the Blessed Sacrament. Joan’s countenance is one of peace.

The head judge comes up the steps to her cell and sees the gathering of people before the Blessed Sacrament. He stands at the doorway and watches.

Then we read a bad Latin translation. It should translate:

May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ keep your soul unto life everlasting. Amen.

Something is telling me that the priest said something else before that but let’s not get into rubrics and such now.

Joan receives Communion with love and is immediately taken by the immensity of what she has just received. Mind you, before, she was denied the Blessed Sacrament because she would not follow through with the judges’ demands to wear women’s clothes and thus disobey her visions and voices.

The head judge continues watching as Joan continues praying as one tear trickles down her face. She is truly at peace now. Unable to bear the pain anymore, he withdraws.

People continue to flock into the town to see what is going on.

Joan remains in prayer even after people in the procession leave.

Another shot of the crowd gathering.

A man comes in and gives Joan her burlap gown that she is to wear to her execution. Jean says,

Be courageous, Joan.
Your last hour approaches.

He then leaves her to change her clothes.

The gates of the city are stormed by townspeople clamoring to see Joan as she is led to the stake.

Joan makes her way out of her cell, dressed in her execution gown, and to the stake. Jean and the other priest accompany her. Jean’s expression is one of sadness.

Joan walks outside for the first time since she was first threatened with the stake. Soldiers lined on either side of her to control the burgeoning crowd of onlookers. We get a brief shot of the fire that will be the death of Joan as a man prepares things for her execution.

As Joan makes her own Via Dolorosa, a woman a la Saint Veronica comes out and gives her a drink of water. The head soldier takes his place to watch his goal be accomplished, or so he thinks.

And the clip ends.

On Wednesday, the Feast of Saint Joan of Arc, we shall watch the final part of this excellent film. I hope you have enjoyed it.

I would write more but I can barely keep my eyes open. This heat sucks the energy out of me like Kryptonite to Superman. Bah.

Have a great evening!
-Allie

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About Ms. Allie

I am a Catholic young woman who works as a Theology teacher at a Catholic high school in the Archdiocese of the Detroit. In Spring of 2015, I graduated with an MA in Theology with a concentration in Systematic Theology. My MA thesis was titled: "Mary as Woman of the Eucharist in the Theology of Pope Saint John Paul II." I also hold a BA in Theology (with a dabbling in Philosophy) and is a member of Theta Alpha Kappa (θΑΚ), the National Theology/Religious Studies Honor Society. Prayers are appreciated.
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