The church celebrating Joan's life and Sainthood
From town, it is about a mile to the church built in the latter part of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century to celebrate the local saint. The project of building a shrine, as it were, began before the 1920 decision declaring Joan a Saint, and was finished in 1926. From near Joan's house the spire is visible at the foot of the hill to the right.
A bit closer it becomes more apparent that a sizable edifice is about to come into view:
From the front, the edifice looks like this. It could use a bit of spit and polish but is impressive nonetheless.
In front of the church are three very nicely done statues. One of Isabelle Romee (Romee meaning she had completed a pilgrimage in her life, or that a close relative had done so). Of course she was Joan's mother,
Balancing this is an equally well done statue of Jacques d'Arc (although there is considerable uncertainty over this last name), Joan's father,
And off the one side there is a statue collection with Joan, here shown with the church behind her,
And here shown from the side with the whiteness of the statue emphasized:
Walking behind Joan allows us to se what she is looking at and gesturing toward: she is in open vision being addressed by saints Catherine, Michael, and Margaret:
From this statue, it is a very pretty view back to and overlooking Domremy:
Back up to the church, there is another Joan statue, with Michael on top of the church dome behind her:
Going into the church, this is its main chapel, decorated with beautiful pastel colored paintings:
The paintings, it should come as no surprise, depict important scenes from Joan's life story, we will start with one of her first visions, by a tree and spring that figured importantly in her trial: her accusers attempted to tie her to pagan rites they imagined being performed at these two natural features:
The recognition of the dauphin in disguise among his courtiers is the next part of her life story depicted:
Her reception at Orleans is a recurring theme, she is the rescuer of the city and its people:
It should not be forgotten that this is not a pleasant fairy tale. War and its slaughter were part of Joan's youthful life, and thanks to her it became a time for French victories in the 7th decade of the Hundred Years' War!
Victory in the field led to the clearing of the way for the Dauphin to be crowned King at Reims cathedral:
Taking communion shows that at this time Joan was in full fellowship!
But, as it happened, capture, trial, and then execution as a heretic! Official Sainthood came many centuries later, even though her trial outcome was reversed 25 years later, and unofficial sainthood was a reality even then!
It was interesting to me that with Joan so prominently on the church's altar,
emphasized in this closer picture,
that someone felt the need to remind visitors with a printed sign that it is Mary that is the Mother of Christ and of the Church.
From the back of the church one can exit:
Turning right brings one to a slope on which are located the "stations of the cross," meditation, contemplation, and prayer points usually inside churches rather than out:
As one example, the eighth station of the cross:
Joan, of course, stands at the entry to this unique group of stations. What is she looking at?
It should be no surprise that she is looking at saint Michael on the top of the church:
Finally, the tree shown in one of the paintings, above, which showed Joan being visited by saints Michael, Margaret and Catherine was very near a spring that, according to Joan, was where some of her visitations occurred. It is the spring of the fevered which, according to Joan, provided water that persons with a fever drank for healing. Joan said, however, that she did not know how effective it was. She, I suspect, knew that to show a positive attitude toward this pagan concept was deadly, in the courtroom where she was repeatedly asked about this spring and its nearby tree:
To end this tour, here are some views in the woods where Joan also reported having had visits from her three saintly advisors. The church itself is purposely situated in the ancient woods where Joan reported many of her revelations occurred from the age of thirteen to seventeen, when she was told she was ready to carry out her mission.
I found these woods full of feeling, feeling I no doubt either wanted badly or had brought myself. But that doesn't matter. I really felt the joy of new life in some of the first flowers popping up this late winter's day:
This ends my tour of Domremy-la-Pucelle. From here I meandered back to Paris in the rain and the dark. It was a good meander, with about three hours' sleep obtained here and there in rest areas. A nice way to kill the coming jet lag, perhaps, but all in all it really helped me sleep on my flight home.
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