Jehanne 2: Bonfire Boogaloo


Calendar  Trial, Retrial

On 23 December, 1430, Jehanne arrived in Rouen, where she was to be imprisoned, tried, and executed. Eleven days of twenty-five years later, it was decided in Paris that Jehanne’s post-mortem retrial should also be from Paris, where it had begun in mid-November, to Rouen, primarily because all the documents of the first trial were still there, and so it would be more expedient. In Fresh Verdicts on Joan of Arc, Jane Marie Pinzino tells us that Rouen and the wider realm of Normandy had been returned to French hands from the pro-English Burgundians only six years before, thus allowing the achives of the trial to be unsealed [162]. At that same time — eleven years after having reclaimed the support of the Church — Charles VII requests of Pope Nicholas V that a new trial for Jehanne be authorized. It takes an additional six years and a successor for this to take place.

Fresh Verdicts on Joan of ArcI don’t intend to try and capture the full scope of the reasons why the trial moved from Paris to Rouen — apparently there is a five-volume work about the rehabilitation trial edited by Pierre Dupac, and in French, so my guess is that a proper summary is beyond my scope and comprehension. Instead I wish merely to present a cut of the meat of Pinzino’s argument: namely that the retrial was particularly important because it reestblished the popular belief in Jehanne’s connection with the divine.

And how had her reputation as a conduit for the angels and the saints been sullied? It seems that in the period immediately after Jehanne’s execution a fierce and widespread propaganda campaign kicked into high gear. Pernoud tells us that just over a month after Jehanne was burned that it seemed vitally important to her primary accuser, Bishop Pierre Cauchon, that it be made clear to the world that Joan had denied the existence of her voices during the trial. He produced statements from all the assessors that Joan “understood and knew she had been tricked by… the voices and apparitions… It was true that she had been decieved.” [140] The day after Bishop Cauchon had these statements formall recorded, the King of England dispatched a message “to the emperor as well as to the kings, dukes, and other princes of all Christendom” [141] detailing how Joan’s execution was a triumph of God, who had clearly showed that she was false by His delivery of her to Eccliastic justice. King Henry VI followed these statements with further claims that Joan “confessed without any ambiguity that the sprits who she affirmed had many times appeared to her were evidently wicked and deceptive…” [141].

The Channel  Noel

An what sort of Christmas might Jehanne have celebrated? What were the ceremonies throughout the hearths and homes of the 15th century Catholic people of France?

According to Clement A. Miles, the tradition of Christmas poetry emerged in France in the 1400s, which led directly to the practice of caroling. Songs or noels would be written partially in Church Latin and partially in common French, which eventually led to a more common tradition of further secularizing carols by having the religious spirit of the lyrics set to common folk songs, work tunes, and previously baudy ballads. The tradition had previously spread from Germany to popularity in England, but did not fully take root in France until well into the 1500s. The word “carol” was used in twelfth-century France to mean “the amorous song-dance which hailed the coming of spring” [Miles 47], and dancing was viewed as sinful and perhaps pagan by the Church, even when it was “religious dancing”. Similarly, the juxtaposition of the worldly and the divine season were rendered in alarming relief through a popular story told by a theologian detailing the sad fate of a man who “heard an indecent song at Christmas, and not long thereafter died of a melancholy.” [Chambers 272]

W.F. Dawson informs us that the practice of giving Christmas cards also emerged at about the same time, but not in the way we would think of Christmas cards. Games had become a popular pasttime for the general public, and subjects and citizens were likely to be found playing chess and dice and cards. As a restful way to pass a holiday, cards increased in prominence and popularity throughout the 1400s and into the sixteenth century. However, this was mostly — again — an English activity. Edward IV had outlawed the import of cards from Germany in order to support local trade and manufacture, as the cards were finely etched, crafted, and sometimes leafed. By 1483, playing cards is thought of a “the English game” [Dawson 90], and when Henry VIII tried to outlaw the playing of cards early in his reign [91], he did so with the caveat that they could still be still be played at Christmas — which gives some indication as to how prevalent and how closely identified the activity had become with the holiday.

The Church  Heresy!

It probably comes as no surprise that the Roman Catholic church still maintains a number of its medieval bodies and structures. The Church wouldn’t have to work so hard to maintain numbers and announce policy if it wasn’t constantly fighting an uphill battle against the persistent image that it is out of touch with the needs of members of contemporary society. I’m sure there are plenty of people in religious communities who discuss the Bible the way that pundits discuss the American Constitution: is it a frozen ideal or a living document? The difficulty is that the various source materials of the Bible are much, much older than the Constitution, and no amount of translation of King James’ English into some version of “Good News” or contemporary language will make the concepts and beliefs instantly relevant.

Athropomorphic depiction of HeresyOne of the most famous of these medieval bodies is the branch of the Church that investigates the supernatural. The is regularly some news article to be found about the current holder of the position of Official Church Exorcist, and for our own purposes, we must remember that the Church is required to investigate evidence of miracles in order to move forward with the beatification process for proposed Saints.

However, it still came as a bit of a shock to read that the Church has declared the preachings of a ex-priest heretical and schismatic. The priest, Father Ned Reidy, is no longer a Roman Catholic, but now a member of the “Ecumenical Catholic Communion”, a twelve-church religion that seems to populate its parishes with other ex-Catholics who seem to find the Church’s stance on certain issues to be out of step with current realities or lifestyles. Considering that Reidy has split with the church, I’m not entirely sure how much the possible verdict of heresy and edict of excommunication will really mean to him.

NPR, which provided me with all of the above facts, also mentions that the last time the Church held a trial of heresy was in 1997, so apparently it’s not altogether an immodern occurrence.

Lastly, as a follow-up to last week’s “How would Jehanne have celebrated Christmas?” post, here’s a brief history as to the origins of New Year’s Day as provided by the History Channel. I have often preferred the explanation of the year’s end schizophreny as a direct result of the creation of the Christmas holiday to replace the solstice festival. According to the calculations of the Julian calendar, Dec. 25 was the day of the winter solstice. However, the conflation various calendars — Julian, Roman, Celtic, and liturgical — left us with various harvest and rebirth ceremonies within a few days of each other, which leaves contemporary Americans effectively celebrating the same thing several times between October 31 and January 6.

Pop Culture  Jandaaku

Recently published Covering: An Attack on Our Civil Rights consists of the personal musings of a Japanese-American gay male about the legal aspects of minority identity. Author Kenji Yoshimo is a lawyer, but he approaches the topic from an individual perspective, writing about the law as he understands it and the ways in which his experiences have made him think about Civil Rights law. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Mr. Yoshimo says that after he came out to his parents that his mother accepted the fact that he was gay. But, the article quotes her as saying, “‘we don’t understand why you have to be a jandaaku.'”

The article continues, defining the term: “That’s a banner carrier, an activist, someone who might teach ‘law of the gays’ rather than something neutral like constitutional law.” The New York Times, however, defines the term slightly differently: “a Joan of Arc.”

The term “Joan of Arc” is bandied about in the newspaper media with some frequency. Most frequently, the phrase can be found in the American press referring to the name of some Catholic school where some local event or another has taken place. Theatrical performances frequently utilize the figure of Jehanne as a character focus, and it seems that almost every week some theatre company somewhere is revisiting and reinterpreting the character and her particular relationship with divinity and insanity. However, the other place where it can be found regularly is in describing public figures. When female presidents were elected in Finland and Liberia recently, Jehanne’s name was mentioned with some frequency as a historical female leader, a strong woman of inspiration.

However, equating her simply with martyrdom, in fact going so far as to have her name be a euphemism or epithet for an activist — with the connotation, at least to me, of being unsuccessful in one’s activism — is a remarkable piece of linguistic evolution.

For more frivolous Jehanne-related marginalia this week: a Star Wars focused interview with Jane Wiedlin, singer and guitarist with noted ’80s chick pop band The Go-Gos, and the woman who played Joan of Arc in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Pop Culture  Only 19 Pieces

I don’t like to use the same category twice in a row — particularly not “Joan in Pop Culture”, which smacks of laziness on my part. However, this article is already a couple of weeks old, and the frenzy is about to fade fast, so here’s a brief word before the dull roar subsides completely.

In a lengthy feature article in the L.A. Weekly about the now-infamous faux-memoirist James Frey, writer Jerry Stahl listed a number of memoirists that preceded the 1920s, an era that Frey claimed on Larry King Live predates the literary form of the memoir. Stahl then whips off a list of famous writers who did record elements of their lives in a literary and autobiographical manner, including “Benvenuto Cellini, Joan of Arc, C.G. Jung, Gypsy Rose Lee, Malcolm X, Willie Sutton”… and eventually Oscar Wilde.

The fact that The Autobiography of Malcolm X was written well after the 1920s notwithstanding, I must correct Mr. Stahl about his use of our lady Jehanne. The volume entitled The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc was written by satirist Mark Twain, and Jehanne never put pen to paper to write down her own record of the events she lived through. Just because we have documents of Jehanne “in her own words” doesn’t mean that she recorded them, nor would it be wise to ascribe to them any literary merit.

Calendar  ‘Dem Bones

Experts to Test Partial Veracity
of Possible Joan of Arc Bones

By INGRID ROUSSEAU, Associated Press

AP Photo: Dr. Charlier displays the supposed remains of Joan of ArcEighteen experts plan a battery of tests to determine whether the few remains reportedly recovered from the pyre where the 19-year-old was burned alive for heresy including a rib bone and some skin really could have belonged to her.

…The tests, which will take six months, will not be able to say with certainty that the remains are Joan of Arc’s, because there is no known DNA sample from her to compare them with, said Dr. Philippe Charlier of the Raymond-Poincare Hospital in Garches, west of Paris.

But the analyses will determine with “absolute certitude” if the remains could not be hers, Charlier said at a news conference. …He said scientists would use DNA testing to determine whether the rib belonged to a woman. Then they will put it through other tests to determine its exact age.

No DNA comparison can be done with possible descendants since Joan of Arc’s supposed family tree is “probably false,” he said.

Considerably more in link. However, allow me to say, Six Months?!? I understand the desire to do the thing right, but if there’s going to be such a lengthy window between announcement and results, why not just wait until the results are in? Yea or Nay, it’s still going to be a significant enough press release. As it is, this is just a wait’n’see, and in six months’ time we’ll see if the press still cares enough to print a follow-up. That’s risky, whereas one press conference witht he actual results is a guaranteed publicity slam dunk. I can’t help but cynically wonder if the tests need funding or something.

The Hundred Years War  The Black Chill

For all my little plague dogs and other people enamoured with the Black Death, here’s an article that links a dramatic decrease in Europe’s climate temperature to the rather attractive recipe of buboles and trees.

From around 1500, Europe appears to have been gripped by a chill lasting some 300 years.

There are many theories as to what caused these bitter years, but popular ideas include a decrease in solar activity, an increase in volcanic activity or a change in ocean circulation.

The new data adds weight to the theory that the Black Death could have played a pivotal role.

Essentially, the massive deforestation of Europe that had occurred with the spread of Christianity up until the 1200s seems to have created a little carbon dioxide bubble that allowed for heat to be trapped in the region. Since one out of three Europeans died from the Black Plague, there was a sufficient amount of land that was left fallow and was able to grow a sufficient number of plants and — eventually — new growth forest that decreased the dioxide bubble between 1347 and the 1500s that made the average temperature of the region drop significantly.

Now, I’m no scientist, but that seems, well… unlikely. If the contemporary scientific studies about global warming can be believed about the last two hundred years of overpopulation and industrialization, then I fail to see how just the admittedly vast deforestation of Europe could create a sufficient upswing of greenhose gasses that their elimination would put all of Europe into a deep freeze that added insult to the pervasive injury of 33% flea-based mortality rates.

The BBC mentions that there are actual scientists who agree with me, and go on to include the most wonderfully condescending thing I’ve read in some time: “It is a nice study…” How sweet.

Mr. Russell presents...  Quick Hits

Have been trying in vain to put together a good review and sample of Richard Einhorn’s score to Carl Th. Dreyer’s 1927 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc. This is because there have a been a number of live orchestral performances of the score in conjunction with showings of the film of late. This is a common practice, particularly in the swathe of old opera houses that have been transformed into current cinemas. It’s a good little trick: it keeps local orchestras relevant and active, and helps promote a cultural awareness of silent film. Anyway, this was just done in Albany, amongst other places, to good review. And I thought I’d comment on the score, but… the web isn’t helping me out at the moment. So here’s a smorgasbord of Jehanne-related stuff:

  • When The Passion of Joan of Arc first hit theatres, it was so successful that the following cartoon was published, enumerating the series of inevitable sequels and knock-offs. Quite funny, if you recognize the caricatures or the names of the actors portrayed. Otherwise, just concentrate on the inclusion of Charlie Chaplin and extrapolate the cartoon’s sentiment from there.
  • From Spiva Arts: Jehanne and Brunhilde“About 12 percent of Americans think Noah’s wife was Joan of Arc, according to a Gallup poll.” —Christianity Today, 13 March 2006.
  • Fiber-artist Leandra Spangler created a paper-doll book for girls as an alternative to the classic Barbie-style female figure. She did this by having her doll base closely resemble the basic proportions of the ancient fertility idols: squat, pendulous, ripe. She then created a series of feminist costumes for her dolls, which included a Joan of Arc outfit (with the sword, to the left of Brunhilde). If you find yourself in Joplin, Missouri, you can try on a life-sized Fertility Joan paper-doll costume at the Spiva Center. Such fun! Although, I rather fell that the fiercely virginal and equally fiercely Catholic Jehanne would pleased with neither the pagan connection nor the slur on her chastity.

Pop Culture  Prairie Dogs

I allow myself six television shows a week. I’d prefer fewer, as it would give me more time for other projects, but I am a film buff, and television is becoming increasingly filmic. As shows go widescreen and as technology allows us to skip advertizements, we begin to see that television is actually good acting, and good long-form drama. It was merely the format and the constant interruptions that made us think it was cheap and lacking in artistic merit. Of course, those television shows that are dependent upon the format — the soap operas and their ilk that use ad breaks for cliffhanger tactics — don’t rise to such a leavened level, but contemporary television has some artful content.

And some of my personal fun is found in FOX television’s House. While the puzzles are formulaic and the character development is minimal, the character work and the acting behind it is exquisite, and it is a gorgeously produced show, with slick, intentional camera work, costuming, and set design. I enjoy it heartily, despite its flaws, and despite its occasionally over-wrought allusions to Sherlock Holmes. And the resolution to the mystery in the most recent episode, “Sleeping Dogs Lie“, is that the patient has the bubonic plague.

Dr. Gregory House extracting fluid from plague buboles.

This was fascinating, I thought. How did they know the color and the shape of the buboles? How accurate was this? A couple of seconds later, House mentions prairie dogs as a common carrier of the plague, intimating that the Black Death is actually quite prevalent in the midwest of the United States. This killer bug had a fifty percent mortality rate in the mid-1300s, and — in conjunction with the pneumonic and septicaemic plagues — decreased the entire population of Europe by between twenty-five and fifty percent (numbers range between 19 million and 38 million people killed across the continent) over the first five years of infection. It is believed to have wiped out the entirety of approximately 40,000 villages in England over the course of the period of Hundred Years War. And yet it infects the insects and rodents of Arizona with impunity and no one seems much to mind.

I spend some time searching the free online medical database to try and find some statistics on incidents of the Black Death in the United states, but without much success. Luckily, someone at the L.A. Times had clearly also been watching House, because the following article ran the next day:

Woman Is Treated for the Plague
By Michelle Keller, Times Staff Writer, April 19, 2006

A Los Angeles woman is being treated for bubonic plague, the first case of the age-old pestilence in the county since 1984, health officials announced Tuesday.

…The last major urban epidemic in the United States occurred in Los Angeles in 1924, resulting in dozens of deaths. On average, about five to 15 people get the plague every year around the country, mostly in rural areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Calendar  Old Orléans

One of the major facts that makes Joan of Arc such a notable character is that despite her peasant unbringing and status, she was able to meet with the Dauphin; that sort of social mobility is virtually unheard of, but not totally implausible. What strains credibility and makes one feel the tug of temptation to seriously consider her spiritual claims is the fact that she successfully led an army in a military campaign that may well have been the turning point in the Hundred Years War. Using religious wiles and fierce-eyed faith to meet with royalty is well within the realm of credibility, but how on Earth do we believe that a seventeen year-old girl with minimal education would know how to successfully deploy troops in a manner that could successfully break a six-month siege?

Register of Guillaume Giraud, notary of Orleans.On the anniversary of Jehanne’s arrival at Orléans, we look, not at contemporary accounts, but at modern military history to see what the cold light of six hundred years has produced as an interpretation of the events. Magill’s Guide to Military History has little to add to our portrait of Joan, outlining the basic timeline of her notable acts, and being sure to mention the key historical and military figures with whom she intersected. However, in the entry on the Siege of Orleans itself, we find a subtle editorial hand.

The entry begins with the assessment that the siege had been undertaken by the English as an attempt quickly bring an end to the lengthy international conflict (funny how those things work out). However, when Joan is introduced, as an “improbable volunteer”, she is quickly relegated to a position of populist cheerleader. Sentences like “While the army leaders discussed plans, Joan mixed with the troops and citizens of Orléans” give the clear impression that while Joan was useful in being able to bolster the troops’ morale in order to keep an attack going until the real surgical military work got taken care of elsewhere. The entry concludes, in fact, with the statement that her “later failures, capture, trial for heresy, and execution in 1431 naturally diminished her moral influence.” Magills, depite one attribution of military success — Joan convinced her generals to unexpectedly attack the English relief forces near Patay — pretty much dismisses her as a powerful motivating force and successful martyr, but little else.

Calendar  Just a Sweet

May 28, 1431: Jehanne is found in men’s clothes in prison, and she is charged with being a relapsed heretic.

Four days previous, Jehanne had signed a document of abjuration, effectively recanting some of her earlier testimony and determining to once again live a life without smashing the barriers of class and sex. While there is no small controversy about the contents of the document that Jehanne signed — more on that next year, I think — it is important to at least say that the document declared “that in future she would neither carry arms, nor wear men’s clothes, nor would she cut her hair short…” [Pernoud & Clin 131]. Pernoud and Clin write earlier that “men’s clothes were accorded a place of increasing importance” in the trial and the interrogation, some months before [123]. With the knowledge that the transcripts and documents of the trial were heavily edited, is this because men’s clothing are ultimate the reason for Jehanne’s execution? That sort of assertion seems rather heavy-handed, but the act wearing of men’s clothes was clearly an affront to the judges, and they were a very visible symbol of Jehanne’s defiance.

However, with her abjuration Jehanne, while still imprisoned, had returned to female attire. So where did she get the male garb that caused her “relapse” and ultimate death? During the trial of rehabilitation, two different accounts were given, one by three separate witnesses, and one by a priest. The latter is that Jehanne’s clothes were taken from her and she was given men’s clothes as a replacement. To wit, she was forced into wearing the articles that killed her. The other story is that she resumed wearing men’s clothes because they were more protective and aided her in fending off the sexual advances of guards and even, reputedly, an English lord. The latter explanation doesn’t explain where they came from, but does create an interesting ethical dilemma: did Jehanne choose to protect her virtue over her life? It certainly sounds like the sort of thing she’d do.

Jehanne’s own response during the trail for relapse is as follows:

I have taken [up male attire] of my own will. I have taken it because it is more licit and fitting to have man’s clothes since I am with men than to have women’s clothes. I have resumed it because what had been promised me has not been observed, to with that I should go to mass and should receive the Body of Christ and should be taken out of irons… I would rather die than remain in irons; but if it be permitted me to go to mass and I be taken out of irons… I will be good and do what the Church wishes. [133]

The clothes, for those fashion-conscious amongst you, are reported to be “a tunic, a cape, and a short robe and other men’s clothes” [132]. Sounds positively feminine to me, frankly, but there’s no accounting for historical fashion.

Church  Anniversaire
 Once Again

THE FAR SIDE by Gary Larson.  Used respectfully, but without permission.Today is the 575th anniversary of the execution of Jehanne D’Arc, aka Jeanne d’Arc, aka Jeanne la Pucelle, aka The Maid, aka Joan of Arc. I’m not sure she deserved sainthood, but she surely didn’t deserve to die as a marionette tugged between two masters, the English and the Church, each looking for a symbol of victory and power. However, I’ll back her candidcacy for sainthood, as political as it may have been, over the poltical maneuvrings bent on beatifying Karol Józef Wojtyla without the benefits of time, due process, or apparent miracles.

And because today is the day of her martyrdom, it is also her Saint day or feast day. Jehanne is the patron saint of “captives, France, imprisoned people, martyrs, opposition of Church authorities, people ridiculed for their piety, prisoners, rape victims, soldiers, WACs (Women’s Army Corps), and WAVES (Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service).” I really like the fact that there’s a saint in the rigid Roman Catholic heirarchy that is the patron of those who oppose the authorithy and thereby the heirarchy of the Church. I rather think a little intercession by the saint against the Church wouldn’t go amiss, actually. Let us pray.

It’s also the first anniversary of this blog. With a post roughly every other week, it’s been slow-going. We’ll see what next year brings.

The Hundred years War  Documents
 of the Case

The Association for Joan of Arc studies is a non-profit historical society with Joan of Arc as their focus. They have only been around since spring of last year, but in that time they have spawned a bewildering range of websites with an equally vast number of hyphens in their URLs. Their planned series of primary source collections is marvelously focused and will hopefully provide the meat for a number of future theses. The website indicates that a number of documents will be produced over the next few months, and they will all be collected eventually in a tome, but lengthy excerpts are provided as teasers. Of particular accessibility is a work that collects, translates, and provides footnoted context for accounts of Jehanne’s clothing. Accounts and descriptions of Jehanne’s male garb are annotated, and 15th century writings about why she wore such clothes and the meaning therein are collected. The sample of Primary Sources and Context Concerning Joan of Arc’s Male Clothing is good reading and a marvelous resource to have collected.

Joan of Arc: Original Source DocumentsThe fact that the Primary Source series is apparently clicking along is a good sign, because the other websites under the Association’s banner are less than fruitful. The Center for Joan of Arc Studies promises a dictionary of medieval French and a digital map of the world as it was, but the promised samples of the upcoming 2007 periodical Images of Joan of Arc’s France in addition to the screenshots from the map, sample definitions, and a sample journal article lead only to blank pages. Perhaps this is simply a PHP problem, but with so many ISBNs secured and so many webpages under the same umbrella, it seems like there has been a lot put into the semblance of a launch rather than the securing of the product.

The internet promises much and delivers instead much in the way of “vapourware“. One can hope that the Association is able to escape this fate that befalls so many, but the sheer number of blank pages in their repertoire don’t look good.

Calendar  Probably Not

Well, it’s been some time since this has been, as they say, “a goin’ concern”, but I do have a backlog of Jehanne-based comment and news sitting in, just waiting for me to be inspired by the act of blogging again. So there’s the possibility that I will retroactively create entries for the last five months. It’ll be like journaling in high school! It was always such fun creating weeks and weeks of entries the night before it was due, switching pens and prose styles to make it seem like it was written in different times and moods and to utterly fabricate the impression that it was done piecemeal and not all in a rush. Amazing that assigning journaling is so resisted and yet LiveJournal is so popular.

Anyway… on the off chance that anyone reads this at all, I wanted to post this while it was current: in response to the answer of whether reliquary skeletal fragments really belonged to Joan of Arc, well… it’s unlikely.

The fragment of cloth, linen from the 15th century, “wasn’t burned. It was dyed,” Charlier said in an interview Saturday. And a blackened substance around the 15-centimeter (6-inch) rib bone and the femur of a cat were not “carbonized remains” but correspond, instead, to vegetable and mineral debris, “something that rather resembles embalming substance,” he said.

…In 1909, scientists declared it “highly probable” that the remains were those of Joan of Arc. Given developments in genetic technology in recent years, the researchers decided to try again.

The probability that the remains are those of Joan of Arc are “enormously lessening,” said Charlier, attached to hospitals in the Paris area and Lille.

—Associated Press, via the Intl Herald Tribune

I’m sorry… what was that about a cat femur?

The cat femur… lends weight to the notion of a hoax or a fake relic. However, other historians say that throwing a cat or another animal representing the devil onto a pyre is credible, Charlier said.

Cat feumrSo there you have it: not only inconclusive with a dubious prognosis as to the final result, but tainted with non-human evidence to begin with. It’s worth noting, as the article elides, that the bones were previously “scientifically” determined to be that of Jehanne during the same year she was beatified, which leads skeptics like me to wonder if perhaps the conclusions were influenced by the populist need to reinstitute her as a holy figure and a cultural icon. To have “genuine” relics during a period in which she was becoming massively popular and relevant again was a potential boon for the Church. Unfortunately, as an Catholic historian will tell you, there has always been a fantastic contemporary market in martyr relics, and it seems that the Archdiocese of Tours was too eager to believe in an extremely tenuous provenance in the names of preservation and parish. For without the notoriety and pilgrimage that comes along with relics, the power and relevance of the parish can… perish.

Pop Culture  A Little Bird
 Wit’ A Knife

It’s Ephiphany and once again time to celebrate the recognized birthdate of Joan of Arc. As is customary, we do this by demonstrating that Jehanne continues to be a powerful and relevant force in the hearts and minds of current society.

Or that’s what we should do. Instead, we take the cheap way out and host Jehanne pop culture references. Please enjoy this clip from The Simpsons episode, “Tales from the Public Domain”:

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