This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Monday, May 30, 2011

May 30 -- Feast of St. Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc)

The story of Saint Jeanne is variously interpreted and retold. Bernard Shaw used the story to comment on many things from superstition and political exploitation to collective and individual culpability. If you don't have the patience to read his play about her, the 1957 film starring Jean Seberg (b&w photo) is worth watching, even if it bombed at the box office. Luc Besson's interpretation starring Milla Jovovich (color photo) is unnecessarily brutal in some scenes and seems to dismiss Jeanne as a schizophrenic, but John Malkovich and Dustin Hoffman put in great performances.
In fairness, Jovovich is good in many scenes too.

In re-evaluating Saint Jeanne's story, I am troubled by a certain double standard. Jeanne believed that she heard voices, including the voice of Catherine of Alexandria, a saint for whom there's no good historical evidence. On the basis of these voices, she raised an army and fought against the English invaders in France. She was captured in battle and eventually tried for witchcraft by the English. Their reasoning: if this woman had not been a witch, how could she (female, peasant, inexperienced in battle, illiterate) ever have prevailed against English forces. The English and the Church officials in their dominions in France have been mocked and condemned for their superstition, bigotry, and injustice. Fair enough, I suppose, except that Joan herself shared these same superstitions and similar bigotry. The role of the supernatural was accepted on all sides. Joan believed that God took France's side in the war, and that she was specially favored to do His will. The English believed the same thing, except they substituted Satan for God in the equation. Not to get all Manichean about it, but aren't they pretty much arguing about the side rather than the coin?

It is a happy coincidence, by the way, that the feast of St. Joan, the patron of soldiers, and particularly of WACs and WAVES, falls on Memorial Day.

1 comment:

  1. O que você achou da obra de Victor Fleming (1948), em relação ao perfil psicológico de Joana d'Arc?