30 May 1431, The Maid of Orléans is born into heaven
580 years ago, “at Rouen, St. Joan of Arc, Virgin, called the Maid of Orleans, who, after having fought bravely for her fatherland, was at length delivered into the power of her enemies and was condemned by a wicked judge and burnt at the stake. Benedict XV, Supreme Pontiff, inscribed her name on the roll of the saints.” (from the Roman Martyrology) The courageous Maid died at the age of nineteen.
In his Wednesday audience of 26 January 2011, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the last moments of St. Joan’s life: “On the morning of May 30, 1431, she received holy Communion for the last time in prison, and immediately after she was taken to her ordeal in the square of the old market. She asked one of the priests to put in front of the stake the cross of the procession. Thus she died looking at Jesus crucified and pronouncing many times and in a loud voice the Name of Jesus.”
The Passion of Joan of Arc – a movie worth watching
Carl Theodore Dreyer’s silent fill of 1928 is not only one of the best (and in my opinion, the best) Catholic movie of all time, it is also widely regarded as a landmark of cinema. Renée Jeanne Falconetti, who plays St. Joan of Arc, delivers a stunning performance which is often rated as one of the finest ever recorded on film. The film was well received by Mordaunt Hall of the New York Times who wrote, “as a film work of art this takes precedence over anything that has so far been produced. It makes worthy pictures of the past look like tinsel shams. It fills one with such intense admiration that other pictures appear but trivial in comparison.”
Additionally, the silent film is often presented with Richard Einhorn’s musical accompaniment “Voices of Light” – this is the music provided in the Criterion Collection edition. The musical score (produced only in 1994) includes many texts from Sacred Scripture as well as from the writings of St. Joan and from other female mystics of the late middle ages and early modern period (including, some who were censured by the Church). These texts can be found here, in pdf form.
The movie follows (quite closely) the historical account of St. Joan’s trial and execution. Though Carl Dreyer was not a Catholic, he captures well the martyrdom of the Saint and unites her passion with the passion of our Lord. Spiritually and theologically, this film will lead many souls to a new spiritual friendship with St. Joan of Arc and with the Lord.
[if you do purchase the movie, be sure to get the correct language and region code (USA is 1 and most of Europe is 2)]
The movie can also be found on YouTube:
The Passion of Joan of Arc, full movie (French text only)
The Passion of Joan of Arc, full movie in parts linked together in a playlist (English subtitles)
The final scene: The martyrdom of St. Joan of Arc