This is from the (unpublished) novel, The Chateaudun Chronicles, The Story Of Joan of Arc, by Virginia Frohlick, edited by Carlyn Voss Iuzzolino. Copyrighted 1997. All rights reserved.
NOTES FROM MY FIRST TRIP TO JOAN OF ARC COUNTRY
APRIL 29,1984....ORLEANS: Not much to do as all the shops are closed. We did find one historical museum open. It contained Gallo-Roman treasures on the first floor. On the second floor was the statue "head" of Saint Maurice. However since it was made a few years after Joan's death, many believe that the features used really were a likeness of Joan herself. There were two paintings of Saint Joan both from the seventeenth century.
We visited the spot where the Tourelles outer earthen works were located. The area is marked by a tall pillar with an iron cross on top. Across the street was a bronze statue of Saint Joan, that was erected in the early part of the nineteenth century.
From there we went to the cathedral of the Holy Cross. Here I was united with my sister and friend (Joan). I was united to her in prayer and in the receiving of the Eucharist, despite the fact, that I am not a blood relation and that there are 555 years between us!
I helped a very crippled and half blind old lady up the steps of the sanctuary to receive Holy Communion. After I returned her to her seat, I returned to my place. I felt all of a sudden, the sense that this old lady was Saint Joan in disguise because of a the warm glow that filled my inner most being.
After supper, we walked along the Loire River bank. I told my husband, Tim, all about how Saint Joan attacked the front of the Tourelles while the people of the town spontaneously attacked it from the rear, while a third group of people sent a blazing barge down the river to burn the drawbridge that connected the earthen works with the main fort itself. I told him how Glasdale fell through the burning bridge to his watery grave. I said jokingly, "That is what you get when you call Saint Joan a whore!"
We came back to the hotel. We started to get undressed for the evening, when I heard military music at a distance. "I wonder what that could be?" But I did not pursue the idea further. I turned on the shower, but the water was too cold to get into so I let the hot water run. The military music got louder.
Then I realized what it was. "Today Saint Joan entered Orleans for the first time. It is the parade where a girl dresses up in armor as Saint Joan to ride through the streets!"
Frantically I said to Tim, "Get dressed quick; it is the parade!" I turned off the shower. Then the Lady who runs the hotel came to our door to say, "Jeanne D' Arc is coming!"
I ran to the street. Yes, she is right. Joan is about two blocks away. I ran back to the hotel room. "Hurry up. Joan is coming! Get your camera ready!"
I rushed out to the street. Joan passes by I wave to her. She sees me! Tim came up behind me. "Take her picture now, Tim!" The camera did not work. So, we pushed through the crowd to follow her. Finally, he gets his camera to work and he takes a few pictures of "Saint" Joan and the captains like Alençon, La Hire et.
He said. "OK, now I am going back to the hotel room."
I said. "NO! Tim, don't do that I want to follow her."
"Don't be ridiculous! I am going back to the room!" So he did, but I stayed and followed Joan, pushing my way through the crowd.
The procession stopped at an artificial gate where the Mayor of Orleans welcomed her back to Orleans on this the 555th year of their liberation. While he talked, Joan's mount was very restless and the two men who guided her white horse had a hard time controlling it. The Mayor gave her flowers. Trumpets sounded and the procession slowly moved on. I went back to the hotel. "Tim, are you dressed?" "Yes, I am." So I pleaded, "Then please come with me. I want a picture of Joan in front of the cathedral."
As I ran toward the cathedral, Tim walked. "Come on, Tim. Hurry up, Tim," I pleaded. We got to the cathedral but no one was around. I saw Joan heading down a street away from the cathedral. So I called after Tim, "Come on, Tim. Down this way."
We must have run six blocks, but we did it. We caught up to Joan and panting we walked alongside her as she continued toward the "house of Joan of Arc." This is the place where the real Joan stayed all the time she was in Orleans. Here the procession stopped. Children serenaded Joan. The Army band played marching music. The girl who played "Joan" spoke for quite a while. I think she was recalling the events of the relief of the siege. I am not sure because I don't understand French!
Tim and I stood in the cold wind listening for about a half an hour. When the ceremony was over they took Joan's standard into the house. The procession continued down one more street where it ended. She got off her horse and so did the captains. "Come on, Tim. I want to get closer! We have to cross the street to get around the horses." "We can't do that!" But I insisted more strongly, "Yes, we can!" I started to pull him by the coat sleeve. "Damn it, we can't do it!"
I must have had super-human strength because I would not take NO for an answer and so I dragged him across the street! I saw Joan going over to the people at the barricades to greet them. Tim pushed me into an opening in the crowd and there I stood watching her greet the people down the line. BUT before she got to me she started to turn away! I called out "Jehanne" and stretched out my arms to her. She stopped and turned. Then Tim called to her and she came over to me. I put my arms around her neck and kissed her once on each of her cheeks. I said in very broken French. "My friend, my general."
Meanwhile Tim tried to take a picture of my kissing Joan but the flash did not go off. He tried again. This time I had my left arm around hr shoulder and was looking at her. I told Tim as he was fiddling with the camera, "You'd better make that thing work or you are dead meat!" This time the flash worked! With that done she turned to me and I thought she said, "Bon Soir mon ami. (Good night, my friend.)" To tell the truth I did not understand her.
Tim later told me that what she had actually said was, "Cà Va? Cà Va?" Which means, something like, "How goes it? or How's life? or How's by you? or OK? or Is it OK?" So she was asking how I was or if the picture that Tim took was OK or maybe did I want anything else. All I know is that I was too filled with emotion to speak in answer to her question, even if I could. All I did was look at her and smile.
Just this night is worth all the money we have spent! As we walked home, I said, "I know there was a reason why I came to Orleans this day. I am sure glad that Saint Joan prodded me into remembering the procession before I missed it all together. Saint Joan is a good friend to me. She takes good care of me. I love you, Saint Joan, very much. Thank you for being my friend!" Oh, by the way it was a very good thing that I decided to stay at the Hotel de Savage, otherwise I would have missed the procession all together. As Tim would say, it was ordained.
APRIL 31,1984....DOMREMY: From Orleans to Domremy is about three hundred kilometers and it took us five hours to get here. After getting a room, we set off to explore Domremy. We saw Joan's home. Her house had four rooms. The front room of the house was the family room where all the day living was done. Across from this room is a storage room that had stairs going up to a larger storage area. There were two back bedrooms, one of which had a small window that looked out onto the church. It was here that Joan and her sister Catherine slept. The left bedroom was for her three brothers. Her parents slept in the living area, I guess. I took some debris from the window sill of Saint Joan's bedroom as a keepsake.
We went to the nearby church. The only part of the original church that Joan would recognize is the bell tower. In this church Saint Joan was baptized and received her first Holy Communion and Conformation. The original holy water fountain that Saint Joan used is visible. The Baptismal font in which she was baptized is there as well as a small statue of Saint Margaret that Saint Joan venerated. I thought I would find the altar and altar rail from Joan's time in the church but I did not. Neither Tim nor I knew enough French to ask where they went.
We walked up the steep twenty degree angle hill to get to the area that once held the "Fairies Tree." Now, there is a moderate sized Basilica of Saint Joan of Arc built over the site. The Basilica contains eight large paintings of Joan's life that I think are very impressive. There is a beautiful stained glass window done in 1896, showing Saint Joan presenting Lady France to the Blessed Mother. The Basilica also contains the statue of Our Lady of Bermont, the very statue that Saint Joan venerated and prayed before while she lived in Domremy!
Tim and I returned to the room. He lay down and I put on some warmer clothing and took a short walk along the bank of the Meuse. There I sat for a few minutes thinking about Saint Joan and God. One thing that I wish is that I could feel Saint Joan's presence more personally and really. Maybe I am asking too much. She has done so much for us, giving us clear sunny skies, friendly helpful people. She gave us a great deal of protection from harm and much guidance. She even arranged for me to make this trip in the first place! Still, I wish I could see her, talk with her, touch her, tell her how much I loved her and need her help and guidance. Maybe someday, if it pleases God.
MAY 1,1984....VAUCOULEURS: We arose at eight in the morning and went to the fountain of the fevers at which Saint Joan played by and heard her voices. At the fountain we obtained a bottle of Spring water. Here too, I read from my book on Saint Joan, the words she spoke that were recorded about her childhood. The fountain was called in Joan's time "the fountain of the fevers" because if you were sick and walked to the fountain to drink its waters, you would get well. I was not sick but I took a small drink of the water anyway.
After breakfast we traveled to Vaucouleurs and stopped at the city hall. In front of the building was a statue of Saint Joan that originally stood before the post office in the capitol of Algiers. When the French had to leave, they took the statue with them. The reason the statue ended up in Vaucouleurs is that the foundry which originally formed it was located in this area of France.
Here too was the city's museum. We met an elderly lady who ran the museum and she gave us and a French couple a personal guided tour. In the museum is a large wooden crucifix that Saint Joan venerated. She then took us into the locked city hall to show us the city's treasures of Saint Joan. They had a large library of books about Saint Joan that had been donated by Bishop John J. Wright of Pittsburgh. Out of all the titles they had displayed I recognized three volumes as ones that I owned. In the collection was also something that I would loved to have, a comic book version of the movie "Joan of Arc" with Ingred Bergman. I drooled with desire over that item. (Since this entry in my diary and my return to the U. S. I discovered that I already had a copy of this comic book.)
She took us inside a large meeting hall where there was a huge painting on the wall. The picture went from the floor to the ceiling. It must have been at least twelve feet tall and eight feet wide! The picture depicted Joan's departure from Vaucouleurs. The tour guide explained the picture's details and then had a discussion about Joan, ALL IN FRENCH! I understood only .01% of what she said. I felt so frustrated I wanted to cry!
From there we went up the steep hill to the remains of Baudricourt's castle. Here we met a professional archaeologist by the name of Henri Bataille. He was excavating the castle, the task of which will outlive him, I fear. He told us in broken English that Ingrid Bergman had helped him to excavate the sight of Baudricourt's audience chamber. He also stated that she helped with the financing of his dig too. He told us that he went to Paris for money to finance his work but they would not give it. He went to London and received the help!
He explained that the Port of France is not the original one. The one we see today was built in 1734 over the original site. The original church of the chateau that Saint Joan prayed in had been dismantled so that a new one could be built. The only thing that remains of the original church is the crypt. Back in the last half of the 1800's the town fathers were jealous of the Basilica that was being built in Domremy. So they tore down part of the ramparts that were still standing to make room for their planned Basilica but they never finished it!
He told us that the majority of the ramparts are gone forever because the people stole the stones and used them to build their homes. The part that he is working on has been spared for the most part because it had been buried in the ground. He hopes to be able to dig out the bridge that led to the Port of France and restore the Port of France to its original state. The tower was twenty meters high (sixty feet) and had a watchtower at its top.
We were able to see two of the rampart towers that he was able to restore. He showed us a carving of the Blessed Mother that came from the Port of the Beautiful Lady, through which Saint Joan entered Vaucouleurs. He said he had to buy it back from the person who possessed it!
As we left, I told him in my terrible French that I wished the blessing of Saint Joan on him and his work. The only problem is that I did not know the French word for bless so I used the English word BLESS. It turns out, that in French the word BLESS is a bad word! I could tell by his reaction that I had said something wrong so I quickly got out my French dictionary to correct my blunder. He then thanked me for my blessing.
From the castle we went to the house of Henri Le Royer where Saint Joan stayed while waiting for permission to go to the Dauphin. Do you know what the present owners have done to the house - they had ruined it - by modernizing its facade and putting in modern windows. That made me sick! What an idiot the owner is!
By the way Vaucouleurs means - many colored valley, which is quite true. The Meuse valley is very rich in farming and diary production. In the spring it is blanked in flowers. In the summer the fields are arrayed in various shades of green and in the fall the forests burst forth in colored.
MAY 2, 1984....COMPIEGNE: Well, the fountain of the fevers lived up to its name but not in the way that I understood. If you are sick, drinking the water is supposed to cure you. I was well when I drank the water but awoke this morning feeling terrible with muscle aches in my back and legs. As the day progressed, my condition worsened and by the time we arrived at Reims, I not only had generalized body aches but I was chilled to the bone. My teeth chattered all the while I was in the cathedral of Reims. I prayed through Saint Joan's intercession that God would heal me.
We only stayed forty-five minutes in Reims as I was eager to get to Compiegne to lie down. Reims cathedral was built in the twelfth century. It is quite impressive despite the great damage that was done to it during World War I. I am sure that Saint Joan looked with awe as she gazed upon its beauty. Inside I saw the main altar in front of which King Charles the seventh was crowned and the general area where Saint Joan must have stood during the ceremony. The cathedral also contains a very impressive statue of Saint Joan.
After resting for two hours in a hotel room in Compiegne, even though I felt awful I pushed myself to see as much of Compiegne as I could. We went first to the city hall that is located within a fifteenth century building. This building contains an information center at which I bought a beautiful medallion of Saint Joan. From there we went to the church of Saint Jacques. It was here that Saint Joan heard Mass and received Holy Communion. In the church there is a statue of the Blessed Mother before which she prayed. Here also legend has it that she prophesied her capture, because it was from here that she went to her last battle.
Then we went to the church of Saint Antoine. Saint Joan went to this church the first time she came to Compiegne. At that time, she stayed at the Hotel du Boeuf. The exterior of this hotel is all that Saint Joan might recognize, because it was in the process of being renovated when we were there. We were able to go up stairs to see the top two floors. In some places we could see the original wood and stone, but mostly not. We did see something interesting, a one hundred year old wooden toilet!
MAY 3, 1984....ROUEN: This morning we drove to Margny the town outside of which Joan was captured. As I drove by a church I noticed a plaque, so I stopped and parked the car. The plaque said that Saint Joan was captured near this site. I did not believe it because a history book that I have read said that the site where she was captured was marked by a cross. (I found out later that the site of her capture is closer to the river than where the church stands.)
I walked down half a block to the town hall and I rang the bell. A man opened the top floor window and I said in very broken French. "I would like to see the capture of Joan of Arc." He answered. "Wait a minute and I will be down." Well, the minute turned into fifteen so we went inside the town hall and waited another five minutes when he finally came along with a woman who spoke some English. Tim and I tried to get across to her that I wanted to see the site where Saint Joan was captured. She brought us back to the church, stating that they did not know the exact spot of her capture. Then she took us up a hill for about four blocks to a school with a plaque on it. The plaque stated that there had been a castle on that site in which Saint Joan spent her first night of captivity. I told her I was a Joan of Arc historian and she invited us back to the town hall where she gave us three publications by the town on Saint Joan. That was very nice of her and we thanked her very much.
Then we went on to Beauvais the Bishopric of Pierre Cauchon, Joan's chief judge. We were very impressed with this cathedral even more so than with Reims. This is because it is the tallest cathedral in Europe. I believe it is 150 feet from the floor to the vaulted roof, almost twice as tall as a regular cathedral. They had a carving of an twenty century Bishop kneeling before Joan asking her forgiveness for the harm done to her by his predecessor Bishop Cauchon! I thought that was cute.
We arrived in Rouen just as their siesta was starting and so we had to wait until two in the afternoon for the places of interest to reopen. That did not stop us, Tim and I just started to walk the streets to see the attractions that did not close. We saw the Gros Horloge, the thirteenth century town clock, that still works! We walked down Rue Saint Romaine to see all the fourteenth and fifteenth century homes. It always amazes me that people can still live in the same building even if it is five to six hundred years old!
We walked to the church of Saint Owen. It was in this church's cemetery that Saint Joan's abjuration took place on May 25, 1431. At all the places that I go, I try to remember to read from my book that I brought which contains the words she spoke. From Saint Owen we walked to the Tower of Joan of Arc, in which she was imprisoned for a short time and shown the instruments of torture. Unfortunately the tower was closed for the whole day. We will have to return tomorrow.
We ended our walking tour at the market place where Saint Joan was burnt to death. I had an eerie feeling in this place. I told Tim it was as if I were returning to the place where I had died or where I saw my best friend die! It seemed as if I could see the people hanging out all the windows of the old buildings that surrounded the market place. In my mind I could see the market place filled with people looking toward the stake where Saint Joan died. They were wearing medieval clothing and they were all yelling or shaking their fists. I noticed a few of the people, mostly women, who were crying. I felt an intense sense of sadness in the place. Tim just said I had a very good imagination! Some people say that for certain places where tragic and other emotionally charged events occur, the site retains the memory of the event. Certain people are sensitive to this "memory" and pick up a mental picture of the event. Maybe that is what happened to me.
The city of Rouen had just recently renovated their market place. The modern church that they built is very unusual. It looks like an up-turned boat at one end and a fish-like structure at the other end. (I just recently found out that the roof does not represent a boat, or a fish, or a helmet, but represents the flames that consumed Joan.) We went inside to pray and I thanked God for allowing me to come.
The government has placed a huge cross over the exact site of her death. It stands about one hundred feet tall. I was upset at first because I wanted to kiss the exact spot of her martyrdom. Now all I could do was to kiss the base of the cement cross, (which I did) and I took a stone from near the cross as a remembrance. In the church I read a pamphlet explaining the church and the cross. The pamphlet stated that the Bill of Rehabilitation declared in 1456 ordered that a cross should be placed over the spot, which was done at first, but through time and wars it was knocked down and a cement slab was put in its place. Then in 1979 the church and new market were completed and dedicated.
We went into a near by wax museum of Joan of Arc. It was quite interesting especially all the different statues, books, medals and pictures that they had. I wished I could have taken about 25% of it home with me for my museum!
MAY 4,1984....ROUEN: We returned to the tower of "Joan of Arc." There we saw the room in which they threatened Joan with torture, to make her give in to her enemies. Thank God she had inner strength and it did not work. They kept her upstairs while the judges debated whether or not to apply the torture to her.
Later in the afternoon I bought some flowers and placed some of them at the foot of the cross that marked the spot of her execution. I thanked Joan for being my friend. I then sat down a few minutes and read from my book about her and read the words that she spoke at the time of her execution. I then explained the scene to Tim. From there we went to the bridge of Joan of Arc. It was here that I threw off three flowers in honor of the Blessed Trinity and to honor Saint Joan. My hope was that I would see them sink and that would be a sign from God that, that was the area where Saint Joan's remains were. I held this dream of finding her remains for almost as long as I was interested in her!
Well, the Lord did not will it so and it did not occur. The flowers floated down the Seine river. So be it. I felt very disappointed and depressed. I felt that I had failed because I was not good enough or worthy enough to find her remains! Yet, at that very moment when I was feeling so low, it seemed to me that I felt Saint Joan's presence very close to me. She placed her hand on my shoulder, and it seemed to me that I heard her voice whispering in my ear, "It is OK. I still love you!" With those words my depression instantly lifted and I was filled with joy. I thought to myself, - Wow, Saint Joan can speak English!, and we laughed!
MAY 6, 1984....ORLEANS: (We returned to Orleans last evening.) After Mass at the cathedral we went to the house of Joan of Arc. It was very interesting. It had examples of the clothing worn at the time of Joan. They had beautifully detailed models of the different places Saint Joan stayed. Of course they had many, many pictures of Saint Joan done at different periods of time. We saw the room where Saint Joan slept when she lived in the house.
From there we went to the Charles Peguy Center - he was a French writer. He wrote two books on Saint Joan as well as a few poems.
There is a concert in the Cathedral this evening. It is raining hard. I did not have my rain poncho on so my jacket and pants are soaked. They performed Mozart's Requiem that lasted for fifty minutes and as an encore they played Ave Marie and one more piece whose name I do not know.
MAY 7,1984....ORLEANS: I thought that the shops would be open today so that I could buy some more "souvenir junk," but they were not. A light rain is falling but the wind is fierce. The first event of the day is the presentation of Saint Joan's banner (standard) to the public. It is to occur at the Hotel de Ville, (the city hall). I saw people entering the building, so without a moment's hesitation I did too! Once inside Tim asked me what I wanted to ask the people at the desk. "What time will the presentation of the standard take place and where?" Because Tim has a working knowledge of French he did his best to ask the question in French but we got the wrong response. We were told to go into a room. This room turned out to be an exposition of old books on Saint Joan. Boy! Would I love to have a few of them!
Upon emerging from the room, I stopped and asked a man if he spoke English. He said he did - a little. I again asked about the standard and where it was to be held. "Here in the courtyard at twelve noon," he politely replied. Then he asked me where we were from and I told him Washington D.C. He told me about his trip to Houston and the Johnson Space Center. I then asked him what was going on inside a room that had a large number of people in it. "Oh, the Mayor of Orleans is welcoming the dignitaries of many cities including the Mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana. Also there are many military men inside too. When the speech is over go in and have some champagne with them."
If you could have only seen the scene, here I am dressed in a dark blue Adida running suite, over which I wore a traffic stopping bright yellow plastic rain poncho. On my head I have a multi-colored cap, the Canadians would call a "Toque." Finishing off my ensemble, I had on a bright green plastic rain boots! Boy, did I look stunning! The people in this room were all in formal evening wear, tuxes and long evening gowns! The military men were in their dress uniforms. How ridiculous I must have looked! But hey, you know me. I will go anywhere for Saint Joan!
We went in and walked around. The rooms are beautiful! One room has a very large set of tables in a form of a square. This was the Mayor's council chamber, I supposed. The other room is a large reception room, with many old paintings and chandeliers. I asked for a glass of champagne but the serving lady would not give it to me. "For the guests only!" I think she said. Tim said to me, "Come on. Let's get out of here." I agreed. "OK, Tim, we can go." As we were moving through the crowd, WHEN I saw a person who wore a button that read, "Wichita."
I rushed over to the person thinking that she was a fellow American, and I gleefully said, "Oh, you are from Wichita! I am from Washington D.C." Well, it turned out that the people with the buttons were not Americans but French musicians, who had played a concert in Wichita, Kansas. They had invited their American host to Orleans for the Joan of Arc Festival. These people started moving into the reception room and motioned to me to follow them. "Where are you going!" Tim said in horror and alarm. "It's ok, Tim. They invited us to join them." "Are you sure?" "Sure I am sure!" I said with confidence.
We were given a glass of champagne each, and we spoke to a nice lady who is a teacher of music at the local conservatory. She plays the flute in the city's orchestra. So here I am in my wet yellow rain poncho. By now I took off my hat to be less obvious! And I'm rubbing shoulders with the Mayor of Orleans and New Orleans and a few Generals too! It takes a lot of Moxey (Jewish for nerve) to do that but I guess I have it. We spent about fifteen minutes talking with her. I asked her how the town goes about picking the girl who will play Joan of Arc. She replied, "The girl must be a resident of the City of Orleans. She must be a person of high morals and character. Then she must write an essay stating why she wants to be Joan of Arc. A committee reads the entries and picks the best one. It is this girl who is made the city's Joan."
Before I left, I used the glass of champagne that I held to toast the event. I said in my bad French. "Viva Orleans! Viva Santa Jeanne D' Arc! Viva La France!" We then thanked her for her kindness and left the party. When we got out side the room Tim said to me, "Do you know how embarrassed I was! Did you not hear the people around you say, Fou American, which means Fool American!" "No, I did not hear them say Fou American, but I was starting to feel a little self conscious. Though, I said to myself, "What the hell, they don't know me from Adam and I will never be here again, so enjoy yourself!"
We went to the courtyard and stood by one of the main gates, in the rain, the wind and the cold! We stood there for half an hour while the festivities occurred. The first band to play was the French Second Regiment. They played a small part of La Marseilles, the French National Anthem, then the March of Lorraine and finally the end of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. We heard a band from Switzerland. There was an all woman band from New Orleans that played some jazz. Another band from Switzerland also played, ending with a small French bugle band named "La Jeanne d' Arc" from the town of Belley. As the American band marched away, they played the theme from "Star Wars." The beautiful copy of Saint Joan's standard was left in front of the Mayor's office for all to see. By this time I am chilled to the bone and could not wait to go back to the room to get some hot tea into me.
The next event we will go to is at five thirty this evening. It is the inauguration of the new museum of Beaux Arts, to which the lady musician invited us. We went to the opening of the new museum. The layout of the museum was unusual. They had special rooms where the paintings were eight feet tall and larger. It was these larger paintings that I enjoyed seeing the most.
They had five pieces of art on Saint Joan. One was a sculpture done in a 1920's primitive style. I did not care for it at all. The museum had this one particular large painting that I disliked immensely! It shows Saint Joan surrounded by her King and Captains, and Joan was standing in judgment over the cowering Bishop Cauchon and the Inquisitor of France. I did not like it because it was totally against Joan's true nature and I felt it was anti-clerical in nature and effect.
The next event of the Festival took place at ten at night. The festivities started off with the cathedral bells joyfully tolling loud and long. Then the Mayor and all his guests were led by the Second Regiment band to the front of the cathedral. 'Saint Joan's' banner came up next. A man then narrated a short story of how Saint Joan raised the siege of Orleans, with a woman speaking the words of Saint Joan.
Then the Mayor of Orleans spoke about how all people love Joan and that generation after generation of people will honor her name. A large children's choir sang an alleluia song and then a song called "A l' Etendard" or To The Standard. Then they sang another song to the tune, "We Shall Over Come." The Bishop of Orleans then spoke of how Saint Joan was a great example of a good French citizen, loyal to France and loyal to God and the Church. He ended his speech with a quotation from Saint Joan. "The soldiers will fight and God will give the victory." The children's choir sang the standard song again.
Afterwards the square went completely dark. All of a sudden, parts of the cathedral's facade were set ablaze with red fire. The man next to me said that the whole front of the cathedral should have gone ablaze at one time, not piece meal as it did. Even so, it was an impressive sight. When the flames (red flares) had died down, the band played the Marseilles and the banner was taken into the cathedral, thus ended the night's festivities. At the end of the evening I was chilled to the bone again. My feet and hands were numb. I could hardly walk. I was so cold!
MAY 8,1984....ORLEANS: At nine A.M. the day started off with a Solemn High Mass in the cathedral, celebrated by the Bishop of Orleans and the Archbishop of Tours. It was concelebrated with at least ten other priests and I counted four deacons. They used a great deal of incense. The vestments were simple white in color with not much decoration on them. The music was provided by a brass ensemble and a large adult choir. Numerous choral pieces were performed expertly and with great beauty. I enjoyed the trumpets' sounding their joyful tones! The Archbishop gave a long sermon, which I did not understand at all.
"Thank You, Dear Jesus, for letting me celebrate this important feast of Saint Joan. Please look after all soldiers, living and dead, everywhere. Help them to do Your will to the best of their ability. Bring them to eternal life with You dear Lord, Saint Joan and all the Saints. Amen."
Mass over, I was happy to have shared in it. Happy too that the Good Lord had taken such good care of Tim and me. The next event started at three in the afternoon. It was cold and the wind was blowing. The sun went in and out from behind the clouds, though it was mostly in than out. The only good thing was that it was not raining nor did it look as it would either. It is so cold for me that even wearing two pairs of pants, a long sleeved shirt, two sweaters, a jacket plus a hat and gloves, I am still cold!
At 3:00 P.M. the procession started. First came the civil and some military people, the Mayor, Generals, judges, the Bishop and the Archbishop. Mixed in between were a few bands. Finally, it was time for Joan to come. "HOORAY!" I said. I waved my gloved hand as I said in my bad French, "Viva la Jeanne D' Arc!" I was so happy and excited. Meanwhile Tim took the pictures for me. The trumpeters sounded the news! JEANNE D' ARC IS HERE!
Joan passed by. Then the captains passed in review, followed by children and adults in medieval costume. After them came the different scouting troops. I forgot to mention that the U. S. was represented in the parade by the U. S. flag and a first Lieutenant and the Mayor of New Orleans.
"Tim, let's go to the Tourelles. She will pass by them." We walked to the bridge "George V." We stopped there because I was too tired to continue. The beginning of the parade was only three or four blocks away, so we saw the parade all over again! Finally, it was time for Joan to come. I took the camera from Tim. I wanted to take some pictures of Joan myself. I go out into the street. She was about two blocks away. I yelled to Tim as I jumped up and down. "Here she comes, Tim! Here she comes!" A man near us saw my reaction and thrill. "You like our Joan?" he said in English with a smile. "Yes, very much," I replied. "She is very nice, is she not?" "Yes, very nice," I said with a sheepish grin.
She was on me. Snap, snap went the camera. "Viva le Jeanne D' Arc." I said as I was smiling and waving. She looked at me and smiled. Snap, she started to pass me. "You see it is hard to get in front of a moving horse, when you are taking pictures." Tim said. I was bound to prove him wrong so I ran ahead of Joan and took a close up of her! There, I did it!
OK, time to go. I did not really want to go. I wanted to follow Joan, - forever if I could! We headed back down the bridge, but near its end we became caught in the crowd and could go no further. The crowd was so thick that we were moved about, as if we were in the ocean current! There was a time, when I thought Tim and I would be pushed over the low stone guard rail into the river. I pushed back against the wall of people with all my might as my feet pushed against the stone rail. The parade ended, the crowd broke up and we made it back safely to our room. We lay down to rest before the last event of the festival. This was to start at 10 P.M.. The fireworks would be launched from the "George V" bridge. Even though I lay down, I could not rest. I felt a great sense of loss. I wanted my Joan of Arc. I did not want to leave her! I wanted to be with her and a part of her. "Don't go, Jo. Stay with me!"
The event on the bridge started off slowly. "Come on," I said to nobody in particular. "Saint Jo deserves better than that!" As the fireworks progressed they increased in size, number and beauty. They even had a flotilla of people swimming in the Loire. They pushed little rafts that held bright flares in front of them. Most had white flares but three pushed large red flares that hurt your eyes to look at them!
The total show lasted about fifteen to twenty minutes. At the end I felt that Saint Joan would have been pleased. I had a great desire to go to the hotel's bar and buy a round of drinks for the hotel's owner and his wife plus anyone else who might be there. I wanted to toast my friend and sing her praise, but it was not to be. The bar was closed and all the people were elsewhere. Tim and I toasted Saint Joan in our room with a glass of coke each. I said. "To my friend Jeanne D' Arc, long may her name be hailed." Then I sang. JOAN OF ARC! JOAN OF ARC! BRAVE, COURAGEOUS AND BOLD! LONG LIVE HER NAME! LONG LIVE HER GLORY! AND LONG MAY HER STORY BE TOLD! "I love you my good friend!" I said, "Thank You, Jesus, for letting me share this time with Tim. Thank You for letting me come and be a part of the festival honoring my friend!"
MAY 9, 1984....ORLEANS: We walked down Rue de Jehanne D' Arc and passed the Center de Jeanne D' Arc. It was open so we went up two flights of stairs to reach the offices of the Center. With each step I became more and more excited. When I got to the office, I could hardly contain myself. All the books they had! The objects of art! The assistant director of the office, Marie-Véronica, came out to greet us. I tried to speak to her in French at first, when I became stumped and I turned to Tim and said, "How do you say...?" She said, "I do speak a little English." "Oh, good," I said as I embraced her. "Would you like to come into my office? We can talk for a while."
I told her how I fell in love with Joan when I was a little girl of twelve or thirteen and how I have a museum in my home dedicated to her. I told her about some of the books and pictures I had. I asked her if she had a comic book version of the movie Joan of Arc, with Ingrid Bergman? "No, I don't think we do." "Well, maybe I could send it to you when I get back home along with a bibliography of all the books I own and a copy of a poem I wrote." "Oh, I would like that very much."
"In your brochure you mention having many movies about Saint Joan?" I asked. "Yes, we do, and you can see them if you would like." "YES! Every one! Can I get copies of these movies?" "Yes, they are on VHS tape," Marie replied. "Oh, praise be God! I will be getting copies from you! Do you have the movie Joan of Arc, with Ingrid Bergman?" "Yes, we do!" I nearly jumped out of my seat with joy at the prospect of getting to see the full uncut version of this movie. When this movie was first shown in the theaters it was 155 minutes long. The VHS version that we have now is only 100 minutes long, so you can see why I was so excited. "May I see it?" "Why, of course, you can."
She showed me a short movie on the places that still exist where Saint Joan stayed. Afterward she put on, Joan of Arc. I said to her as she was leaving the room. "It's in French!" Marie answered, "But of course, we are in France." I was disappointed because I wanted to get a copy of the movie from them, if it was the original uncut English version. Well, I watched the movie and it was not the original version. Then she asked, "Would you like to see the Cecil B. De Mille's version of Saint Joan's life? It is a very interesting version." "Not tonight, tomorrow perhaps." She replied that that would be fine. I gave her fifty French Francs to join the center. Now, I am a card carrying Joan of Arc NUT!
MAY 10, 1984....TOURS: Today we headed for Sully. This is the castle of the Duke de la Tremoille where Joan stayed for several weeks. There was not much of at the chateau from Joan's time. She would have recognized only the fireplace and the staircase. The castle is small but nice, though quite cold. "It must be very cold in the winter here." I said to the tour guide. "Yes, it is. It is VERY cold and difficult to take." We spent an hour at Sully.
We pushed on to Beaugency, which Saint Joan captured by force of arms. We saw the bridge and the castle fortress. We saw the church in which she prayed. When we entered Tours, it was rush hour so we did not stay but continued on to Loches. We spent the night half way between Tours and Loches.
MAY 11, 1984....CHINON: First stop - Loches. So far I like this castle the best because it is the most like the way it was when Saint Joan was there from the 3 to the 5 of June 1429. Each room on the ground floor was given a name. The first room is called Charles the seventh. It was in this room that Saint Joan persuaded Charles to go to Reims.
The second room is called Agnes Sorel because it contains the tomb of Agnes Sorel. She was the mistress of Charles the seventh, who by the way, was the first King of France to have a mistress openly. Her beauty was renowned. If she was so beautiful, what did she see in that ugly pencil-necked geek like Charles? Except that he was King! I don't know. Agnes died at the age of 23 and Charles had a beautiful tomb sculptured for her. During the French revolution the statue's head was destroyed by the soldiers and her remains scatted because they thought she was a Saint!?! The sculpture was restored during the Second Empire.
The third room is called Charles the eighth. He was the grandson of Charles the seventh. They had a bust of Charles the eighth on the mantel. Tim put his sunglasses on it and then I took a picture of Tim facing the bust with their noses almost touching! Charles the eighth was also an ugly man. His forehead was flat and depressed making his large eagle beak nose look even bigger. His chin jutted out and came to a point. The poor ugly bastard, he was his grandfather's son all right. Despite his physical deformity, he was a very good King! He was known by the name "father to his people." The reason for this was that during his reign, France was in no war either foreign or domestic. The people were experiencing a time a peace after so many years of war. Charles' motto, which impresses me greatly, was, "With piety and justice I go forth unarmed!"
The final room we went into was the Ann of Brittany's Oratory or chapel. They put in a fireplace in her chapel because she spent so much time there. She had a hard life, married three times. The first husband, her father, and three of her children all died very close together. Then she married Charles the eighth who died when he was thirty-eight. Then she married Charles cousin who became Louis the eleventh of France.
The next stop that we made was the town of Saint Catherine de Fierbois. Here Joan stayed at an inn, where she dictated a letter to the Dauphin asking permission to enter Chinon. While she waited for the answer she heard three Masses in one day. When she was getting her armor at Tours she sent to Fierbois for the priests to look for a sword buried under the main altar in the church of Saint Catherine. Legend has it that the sword belonged to Charles Martel who won the Battle of Tours in 732 that stopped the advance of the Moslems into Europe. In thanksgiving he had the Church of Saint Catherine built and he buried his sword there.
On to Chinon! At the corner of Rue Saint Maurice and present day Rue Jeanne D' Arc, Joan used the inn's well to help her dismount her horse. She stayed at the 'Bowman's inn until she was summoned to the castle. The clock tower or guard tower of the castle is the same as when Joan road through them. The only thing left of the great room in which Saint Joan first met the Dauphin is the fireplace. Saint Joan was housed in the Fort du Coudray, which in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was used as a prison. Strange that Charles should want to house her there.
We went into the Museum of Old Chinon. In a glass case on the third floor is something interesting. There are two glass vials (like test tubes) one of which is supposed to contain the charred remains of human bone. This charred remain was found in Rouen at the site of Saint Joan's stake. Who knows if they really are Saint Joan's? One thing is sure that it is human and it is charred. The second test tube contained the remains of the torch that might have lit Joan's pyre.
MAY 15,1984....ORLEANS: Upon passing the Joan of Arc Center, I told Tim I wanted to go and see the movies that I missed, so we went up to the office. The founder and director, Madame Pernoud, greeted us. She has written many books on Saint Joan and the period of history in which she lived. There is NO greater authority on the subject of Saint Joan than Regine Pernoud! She was busy at her desk when the directress of the office walked up to her. In French she explained that a Joan of Arc enthusiast from the States who has studied Saint Joan's life for twenty-two years would like to meet her. I said to myself. "Too bad she only speaks French, I wanted to talk to her more fully." We were shown into the office.
Madame Pernoud is an elderly lady, with pretty wavy gray hair. Her eyes were a clear blue gray, full of intelligence and warmth. She wore coral-colored glasses that corrected her near-sightedness. She stood no more than five feet tall. She wore a black low heel shoe with a knitted gray-blue dress that came to just below her knees. She started to speak to me in French. When she finished her statement I turned to Marie and asked what had she said. "Oh, I am sorry. I thought you spoke French," Madame Pernoud said with a broad smile. It turns out that she spoke English quite well. She explained what she had said in French. "I am surprised to see someone so young and yet has studied Joan for twenty years." She offered us seats.
Then when we were all comfortable, she asked, "How did you get interested in studying Saint Joan?" I explained that my father liked the knights of the round table. He would take me to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and show me the armor, swords, banners and the like. When I was around twelve or thirteen, I stumbled on to Saint Joan. "OH boy!" I said to myself. "Here is someone who is a knight, soldier and Saint all in one and a girl too!"
I went on to say that I have read at least fifty books on Saint Joan. I even tried to read Voltaire's satire of Joan, in which he ridiculed the Church's traditions. By the third chapter I closed the book in disgust and flung it across the room. "If I could have, I would have strangled Voltaire on the spot!" As I said this I acted out the part. She laughed and nodded her head in agreement! We talked about how so many writers like to dig up bad things to say against Joan. Like the doctor who said that Saint Joan was a man in a woman's body. "That man I wanted to kill!" I said. "You should not get so excited over such nonsense," she told me. "All you need to do is go back to the documents and read what they say. Your interpretation will depend upon whether or not you are Catholic, but the documents are the important thing! As for Joan's being a man, she was examined physically three times by friends and foe alike. These people were not simpletons as we suppose them to be, but worldly wise as we are today. If Joan was such an aberration as this doctor has claimed, the people of her time would have known and spoken of it."
She asked for our home address and Tim wrote it down for me as I explained how I had a little museum in my home to Saint Joan. I also told her how I prayed to Joan. "At first I addressed her as Dear Saint Joan of Arc, being very formal and all. As I became more friendly with her, I would say Dear Saint Joan. Now, I just say Hey Jo!" She smiled at that!
In return she wrote Tim and me a note on her own personal stationary card. It says: Very happy to meet you, Virginia and Timothy, and hope I have soon chance to visit you and your Johannic Museum in Washington D.C. Very many thanks for your visit. Have a good trip! Signed REGINE PERNOUD 15 MAI 1984. WOW! What an honor!
MAY 16,1984....ORLEANS: Tim stayed in the hotel room and I went back to the Joan of Arc Center. I watched the Cecil B. De Mille's film Joan, the Woman! which was made in 1918. I could not help smiling at its archaic form of acting or its overacting! Even so, I am glad I saw it. It is an amusing bit of fictional drama that was entertaining to watch. Then I viewed a re-edited version of the 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc. by Dreyer. Joan was played by Miss Falconetti, an Italian actress, who, I feel, is the most sensitive and realistic Joan I have ever seen! Another movie I viewed was also a silent film entitled, The Marvelous Life of Joan of Arc. It is a French film done in 1928. Joan was played by Simone Genevoix. I enjoyed this version very much. As compared to the 1918 U.S. film Joan, The Woman, it was far superior.
Well, that wraps up my visit to France in 1984. When I got home, I wrote to the girl who played Joan in the Festival. This is my letter to her:
Dear Isabelle Miquel:
My name is Virginia Frohlick. I live in Washington D.C. I have waited twenty years for the opportunity to come to Orleans for the festival honoring Saint Joan; this year I made it.
When I was twelve years old, I read a book about Saint Joan. With that first book my life was changed. I could not read enough or see enough about her. From that time on I have spent much of my free time studying her life and trying to learn all I could about her.
As the years passed, I grew to know her so well that I believe we became very good friends, even sisters! At least that is how I have come to love her! She has guided me through my life, leading me ever closer to Jesus. She has taught me that it does not matter what you do in life or how long you live as long as it is done and lived for Jesus!
How fortunate you are to have been chosen to represent Saint Joan at the 1984 festival! I met you at the festival the night of April 29, at the end of the evening's events. You walked over to some people and were greeting them. As you were turning away I called out "Jeanne" and motioned to you to come over to me. You were a little hesitant at first, but when I called out "Jeanne" the second time and stretched out my arms to you, you did come over. I was so filled with emotion; because for me you were Jeanne!
I said what I could in my very poor French to express the love I have for Saint Joan, "My friend, My general." My husband took our picture together, then smiling you said something in French to me and left.
I did not answer you for two reasons. First, I was too filled with emotion and second because I don't know how to speak or write French. (My friend was kind enough to translate this letter into French for me.)
I am curious to know your deep feelings and thoughts that were in your mind as you represented Saint Joan. Did you feel that Saint Joan was there right by your side as you rode through the streets? How were you chosen for the Festival?
I hope you have the time to answer my questions. For I would be most interested in hearing from you.
May good Saint Joan, protect and guide you always as your journey towards heaven.
A Friend of Saint Joan,
This is Isabelle's response to my letter, as translated from the original French.
Dear Lady: Oct. 30,1984
Please forgive me to be so late answering your letter. I received your letter in September during back to school and I didn't find time to answer your letter that deeply touched me.
I want to thank you for the picture of the 29 of April. Also for the booklet on Washington D.C. Both gave me great pleasure but what touched me the most was your letter that accompanied both. It touched me that even in the farthest foreign countries Joan of Arc is known and prayed to.
You asked how the town of Orleans chooses its Joan. I don't really know but on my part I can tell you how I was chosen.
It started in January 1984. The school principal asked me to be a candidate. I had met the three criteria asked: 1) I was born in Orleans and my family has been in Orleans for several generations. 2) I live in Orleans. 3) I am going to school in Orleans. I was chosen among several others. I don't really know why, but I know that one must be a believer, a church goer and must have done social works. I, for myself, am a European Scout.
When I was chosen, I was presented to the press last March, during the Easter school holidays. The town of Orleans offered me, along with the manager of "Orleans Joan of Arc," a trip to trace back Joan of Arc's journey, so I would know her better. I then went to Domremy, Vaucouleurs, Reims, Compiegne and Rouen, where they had a conference on Joan of Arc's life. I did not go to Chinon because most of the castle is gone.
Then little by little, the festivities arrived. I was getting ready during that time for a Mass, the first of May Mass. Finally the three big days arrived and it's only now that I can think back and reflect on it.
When I was horseback riding with my armor, I represented Joan of Arc and the people of Orleans.
The tourists pictured me as Saint Joan and on my horse I tried to represent her the best I could by smiling and waving to the people that applauded me. I firmly believe that at that very moment Saint Joan of Arc helped me and encouraged me during the parade.
Even now, I still have a souvenir of the Joan of Arc festivities; for I still have the sword that I must pass on to Joan of Arc 1985. This sword is of no value, dated from 1968 and is hung on my bedroom wall as a souvenir of the part I played for two weeks last June.
I hope I have enlightened you a little on Joan of Arc festivities. May Saint Joan help you and be a support to you in ordeals. (signed) Miquel
JEHANNE D' ARC 1984
To become a member of the Joan of Arc Center in Orleans, please write:
ASSOCIATION DES AMIS DU CENTER JEANNE D'ARC
24, RUE JEANNE D'ARC
S A donation to the Center will help the Center preserve and maintain the documents books and movies. (However their bank in France charges $20. to deposit and convert to French francs any funds sent as a check drawn on a U.S. bank. Keep that in mind when you choose how much and how often to donate to the Center. One check for $100 is worth a lot more than 4 checks of $25 each.)) Then you too can be a card carrying Joan of Arc NUT!