Youth New Evangelization & Spiritual Renewal Seminar Series
 
A movie screening:  Seminar 16

Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc)


The life of Joan of Arc must be viewed against the background of later stages of the Hundred Years War (1339-1453) in which England and various French factions took part, and which had caused severe hardships and suffering to the French population.

Joan was a daughter of Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle Romée, and was born on January 6th, 1412 in a village Domrémy near Vacouleur. Joan was a pious girl. Intelligent, but illiterate. It was at the age of ten that she began to experience visions which comprised of verbal communications (voices) and physical apparitions of figures of angel Michael, St. Catherine (of Alexandria) and St. Margaret (of Antioch). She maintained that during her childhood these visions had merely instructed her to "be a good child and go to church regularly", but over the next several years they had persistently called for her to go to Dauphin (title for the rightful heir of the throne; later, king Charles VII) to help him to become crowned and unite the people of France. After several of her unsuccessful appeals to the local commander at Vacouleurs, Robert de Beaudricourt, he finally yielded to her pressure, and sent her with an escort of several armed soldiers to see the king at the city of Chinon.

The would-be king Charles was impressed by her recognizing him in disguise, and hidden in a crowd, and by giving him a certain sign (never revealed) which attested the supernatural origin of Joan's message. Subsequently, she was given a thorough searching examination by theologians and doctors during her three-week stay at a convent in Poitiers. They found that there was no reason for disapproval, and advised the king to make good use of her abilities.

During the next several months, Joan led French army to a number of victorious battles of which the one at Orléans in May of 1429 was the most decisive and led to the coronation of the French King Charles VII in Reims' Cathedral on July 18th, 1429. Later she was betrayed however, and during a skirmish outside the town of Compiègne in May of 1430 she was captured by the Burgundians and later handed over to the English who prepared to try her for heresy. This trial which was politically motivated was held in Rouen between February 21 through end of March of 1431 and it was presided by the Bishop of Beauvais, Pierre Cauchon and an inquisitor vicar, Jean Lemaitre. During the trial, witnesses recall, Joan's answers were those indicating presence of mind, humility, wit and good sense. During the trial she was manipulated into signing an abjuration which she later recounted and was therefore convicted as a relapsed heretic. She was burned at stake in the marketplace of Rouen on May 30 1431.
 

The Film:

While watching the movie, notice number of parallels between Joan and other prominent Biblical figures such as the prophet Moses and Jesus of Nazareth.

Q1 - What was the parallel between Joan's heavenly mission and that of Moses? (Hint: Ex 3:1-12)

Q2 - What in Joan's life could be compared to the public ministry of Jesus? (Hint: Lk 4:1-7, Lk 22:66-71, Jn 19:28,29; also, recall Joan's conversation with Madam de Beaurevoir (Agnès de Brie) after Joan's capture where she made her an offer to be trained in arms, educated and to be accepted by Burgundian noblemen. Then she added: "you have only two choices: allow Burgundy to embrace you, or England to kill you".) What was Joan's response?

Q3 - How would you describe the relationship between Joan and her father Jacques d'Arc? (Hint: pay particular attention to the scene where neighboring villagers approached Jacques d'Arc to beg for food and shelter. What did Jacques d'Arc do? What was Joan's reaction? Please, read also: Matt 10:37-39).

Now recall the conversation between Joan and captain La Hire just before the battle at Orléans; Joan: "You did not pray captain!" La Hire: "I watched a man to pray to be safe, and watched him die in agony. I watched a wounded man to pray so he could die, yet, he had to live in agony. Now, I watch my back!"

Q4 - How would you react to captain La Hire's observations? Would you agree with him?

Again, recall the conversation between Joan and Madam in the Castle of Beaurevoir after Joan's capture by Burgundians:

Mme: "Why did they fail you, allowing you to be captured?"
Joan: "I did not wish to be captured, but it's all part of God's plan."
Mme: "But what this plan could possibly be?"
Joan: "I am told that I and Charles are being tested; and soon I am going to have to choose my own path."

Q5 - After seeing the whole film, what do you think this path was to be?

In the movie Joan has committed two big blunders (hint: in the second part of the movie).

Q6 - What were they?

Q7 - What was the reaction from heaven to these blunders?


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