Saint Thérèse was a 19th century Carmelite Nun who had a great admiration for St. Joan of Arc. St. Thérèse was a very accomplished writer who used her talent to honor Saint Joan with several poems and a play. Below are several photographs taken of St. Thérèse dressed as Saint Joan for her play that was performed on January 21, 1895.
Over a period of about three years toward the end of her life, St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) was asked by her Carmelite superiors to compose eight “theatrical pieces” for special occasions in her convent. She did not consider them mere trivial amusements. On the contrary, Thérèse invested herself wholeheartedly in the writing and performance of these little dramas, which provided a welcome opportunity to articulate her growing spiritual insights and share them with her religious community. Here we find echoes of her great themes, some developed at greater length than anywhere else in her writings: Mary of Nazareth and Joan of Arc, humility and the “little way,” confidence and love, and so much more.
In the present volume, for the first time, all eight of her “plays” (or “pious recreations,” as they are sometimes called in the French) are published together in their entirety for English-speaking readers. They open a new window onto the message of the Church’s youngest “doctor.” Also included is a masterful general introduction by the noted Thérèsian expert, Bishop Guy Gaucher, O.C.D., as well as individual introductions to each play explaining its context and significance.
To Joan of Arc
When the Lord God of hosts gave you the victory,
You drove out the foreigner and had the king crowned.
Joan, your name became renowned in history.
Our greatest conquerors paled before you.
But that was only a fleeting glory.
Your name needed a Saint’s halo.
So the Beloved offered you His bitter cup,
And, like Him, you were spurned by men.
At the bottom of a black dungeon, laden with heavy chains,
The cruel foreigner filled you with grief.
Not one of your friends took part in your pain.
Not one came forward to wipe your tears.
Joan, in your dark prison you seem to me
More radiant, more beautiful than at your King’s coronation.
This heavenly reflection of eternal glory,
Who then brought it upon you? It was betrayal.
Ah! If the God of love in this valley of tears
Had not come to seek betrayal and death,
Suffering would hold no attraction for us.
Now we love it; it is our treasure.
St. Thérèse wrote the following poem in support of the Canonization of Saint Joan of Arc. For more information about either of these poems visit the St. Joan of Arc Center
Canticle To Obtain The Canonization Of The Venerable Joan of Arc
1. God of hosts, the whole Church
Soon wishes to honor at the altar
A martyr, a warrior virgin,
Whose sweet name resounds in Heaven.
Refr. 1 Refrain
By Your power,
O King of Heaven,
Give to Joan of France
The halo and the altar. Repeat
2. A conqueror for guilty France
No, that is not the object of her desire.
Joan alone is capable of saving it.
All heroes weigh less than a martyr!
3. Lord, Joan is Your splendid work,
A heart of fire, a warrior’s soul:
You gave them to the timid virgin
Whom You wished to crown with laurels.
4. In her humble meadow Joan heard
Voices from Heaven calling her into combat.
She left to save her country.
The sweet child commanded the army.
5. She won over the souls of proud warriors
The Divine luster of Heaven’s messenger,
Her pure gaze, her fiery words
Were able to make bold brows give way….
6. By a prodigy unique in history,
People then saw a trembling monarch
Regain his crown and his glory
By means of a child’s weak arm.
7. It is not Joan’s victories
We wish to celebrate this day.
My God, we know her true glories
Are her virtues, her love.
8. By fighting, Joan saved France.
But her great virtues
Had to be marked with the seal of suffering,
With the divine seal of Jesus her Spouse!
9. Sacrificing her life at the stake,
Joan heard the voice of the Blessed.
She left this exile for her homeland.
The savior Angel re-ascended into Heaven!…
10. Joan, you are our only hope.
From high in the Heavens, deign to hear our voices.
Come down to us, come convert France.
Come save her a second time.
Refr. 2 Refrain
By the power
Of the Victorious God
Save, save France
Angel Liberator!… repeat
11. Chasing the English out of all France,
Daughter of God, how beautiful were your steps!
But remember that in the days of your childhood
You tended only weak lambs…
Refr. 3 Refrain
Take up the defense
Of the powerless
In the souls of children. repeat
12. Sweet martyr, our monasteries are yours.
You know well that virgins are your sisters,
And like you the object of their prayers
Is to see God reign in every heart.
Refr. 4 Refrain
To save souls
Is their desire.
Ah! Give them your fire
Of apostle and martyr! repeat
13. Fear will be banished from every heart
When we shall see the Church crown
The pure brow of Joan our Saint,
And then we shall be able to sing:
Refr. 5 Refrain
Rests in you,
Saint Joan of France,
Pray, pray for us! repeat
The picture above of Saint Thérèse as Saint Joan is contained in the book The Photo Album of St. Therese of Lisieux. What amazes me about this picture is that if you look closely at her eyes you can see what appears to be the cross. I checked and the images of the cross can be seen in the original photograph that was taken with her sister Céline portraying St. Margaret however the images are not as distinct as in the picture above. It can be debated whether or not her eyes are reflecting a cross that stands in the center of the courtyard where the photo was taken but whatever the true cause, divine or otherwise, the crosses in her eyes seems so appropriate for St. Thérèse and her expression in this picture. It is as if her eyes are reflecting the glory of her Lord as her face expresses her deep love for Him.