Joan of Arc….The Movie


Hi, friends.

I spent the last two nights watching my Christmas present from Brigid.  She bought me the film Joan of Arc starring LeeLee Sobieski.  It was released in 1999 – I believe it was originally made for TV.

It was very, very good!  I would put it high on my rental list if you want a really good movie that will make you cry.  I couldn’t help but scream – “Run, Joan, Run!”  Of course, she didn’t listen and the end of the story is that she is burned at the stake as a heretic.

For those who have never heard the story of St. Joan – it is a whole lot like many of our stories, as survivors.  A very young Joan believes that she is being called by God to lead the French to a victory over the English and to reunite her country under one French King (King Charles for those who are keeping track.)  The Church declares that her voices and her cause are real and the King allows her to lead the Army.  They defeat the British and take back a large portion of France and Charles is crowned King.  The people of France believe that Joan may be the foretold Maid of Lorraine and follow her willingly.  Of course, once the King is crowned he no longer needs this girl who challenges him to continue to unite his kingdom and be a good king…

He can’t just send her away – but he makes sure that she ends up in the hands of the British – who are more than happy to have a dishonest Bishop put on a Kangaroo Court and try her as a Heretic.  In the end she is burned at the stake as a “witch.”

She is tried for wearing men’s clothing and denying her sex – but she was being held in a prison guarded only by men.  When she wears a dress the men try to rape her.  It is only by returning to men’s clothing and lacing her britches to her tunic that she can fend them off.

There are many questions about Joan even today.  The trial transcripts and eyewitness testimony were rediscovered and it is one of the most widely documented cases of the Dark Ages.  Some people say that she was an Auditory Schizophrenic and that the voices and vision she had could not be real.  (Joan was lead by St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret.)  580 years have gone by and people are still calling her crazy. 

It was very, very hard for me to watch the end.  Knowing that they would destroy her for their own political purposes.  They couldn’t just send her away – no, they had to shame and discredit her.  It all seems so very familiar, doesn’t it.

It is no wonder that I chose this remarkable young girl as my Patron Saint and that I use that name to post on this blog.  She had a vision and a calling.  Not for herself but for the people of her Country.  She did everything that she could to be true to that vision.  Even though she had many successes, she became a “problem” for the men in power.  They gave her to the enemy, discredited her, ruined her reputation and smeared her name.  Finally, they burned her at the stake as a “bitch”….I mean “witch.” 

Oops – Sorry.   Joan was gotten rid of for being a “witch”…I was gotten rid of for being a “bitch.”

I think that one of the most painful things about rape and betrayal in the military is that we volunteered to be there.  It’s not like we, as women, were drafted.  Despite our reasons for entering the military, I know that most of the women I have known, are there because we believe.  We believe in our Country and in living and dying to defend freedom.  I know that is why I joined…and I know that is why Brigid joined.  It was our duty and our honor to give back.  Our dear Father’s had both served in the military.  (My Father’s tour was much easier than Brigid’s Father’s tour.)  They both knew what we were facing (not the rape…but as women in the military) and they are both very proud of their little girls.

We had a mission, we did our best, we had lots of successes….and then we became a problem.  We didn’t disappear when they wanted us to – we didn’t “service” them as required.  We were betrayed…declared to be bitches and driven out.

There are days when we ask…”Why Me?”  I guess Joan of Arc must have had the same questions.  St. Joan of Arc is the Patron Saint of Women Soldiers and of Rape Victims.  Hmmmm – makes you wonder if this isn’t just another “miracle.”  I’m sure that this wouldn’t mean much to her in the grand scheme of things and all of the people who admire her – but I can’t help but believe, just a little bit, that maybe her suffering is a gift from God to all of us.  That we can look back in time and see this young woman who held on to her beliefs…no matter what.  Maybe she is there to remind me that they may have taken a large part of who I am…who I was…but they can’t take my beliefs and they can’t take my honor and they can’t take my values.

They say that Joan’s heart survived burning at the stake – not only did it not burn – it still had fresh blood in it.  Maybe that is what I need to remember today.  They took everything…but her heart.  That she kept.  So long as we keep heart…there is hope. 

Blessings and Peace,

Joan

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