Joan of Arc



Jehanne: Portraits of a Saint


Paris Eiffel Tower Notre-Dame May God So Keep Me The Counsel of My Lord

Sacred Heart

Subject: Cathédrale Sacré-Coeur
Location: Montmartre
Portrait: available upon request

Then: This Neo-Romanesque basilica is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Christ. It was built from 1875-1914 as the result of a private religious vow made during the Franco-Prussian war: if France was spared from assault, then it would be built.

Now: Sacré-Coeur sits gracefully atop the region in Paris known as Montmartre. The ovoid dome is the second highest point in Paris and its brilliant white stone can be seen for miles. The church's extraordinary whiteness is the result of material used in its construction, which actually bleaches more with age. Saint Joan of Arc is one of the two bronze equestrian statues presented above the entrance and Saint Michael adorns a spire on the west side. Inside the basilica is an altar to Joan of Arc you won't want to miss. 

May God So Keep Me

Subject: Joan of Arc
Location: Cathédrale Sacré-Coeur
Portrait: available upon request

Then: In an attempt to trap her, Joan of Arc's inquisitors at the Trial of Condemnation asked her if she believed she was in a state of grace. If she said no, then they had cause to refer her to the determination of the Church. If she said yes, then she would be claiming herself in a position equal to that of the Pope, and certainly closer to God than her ecclesiastical inquisitors, and could be tried as a heretic. In brilliant humility, Joan replied "If I am not, may God put me there; if I am, may God so keep me."

Now: Kneeling before this scene of Joan of Arc kneeling before Saint Michael, I was struggling to find a way to hold my camera still for a long shutter speed in the darkness because I did not have my tripod. I must have drawn some attention because I was approached by a person affiliated with the church. Is it unusual to kneel before Saint Joan of Arc? I don't know, but apparently photography is not allowed in the Sacred Heart Cathedral. Of course, I did not know this until after this final photo.... In the background Joan is astride a horse wielding her banner. She is looking up to a statue of Saint Michael slaying the dragon. Behind him, is a series of three stained glass windows showing Joan at the stake, Charles VII receiving the crown and Saint Michael giving Joan a sword as she hears her voices. This portrait is thick with a sense of piety and tugs at viewers to follow the impeccable devotion of Joan of Arc.


Eiffel Tower

Subject: Eiffel Tower
Location: Paris
Portrait: available

Then: The Eiffel Tower was supposed to be temporary! It was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1889 to commemorate the centennial of the Revolution. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, it is 1046-feet high and was the tallest building in the world until the Empire State Building was completed in 1931.

Now: Although it is not part of Joan's history, it is certainly the icon of Paris. I had to have ONE picture of it! The Tour Eiffel offers endless photographic possibilities, including spectacular nighttime light displays, creative black and white abstracts and panoramic views of the city stretching up to 45 miles on clear days. Take the elevator to the top so you can get your bearings... or dizzy and scared! 



Subject: Cathédrale Notre-Dame
Location: Paris
Portrait: available upon request

Then: Paris was and still is the heart of France. Without it, you did not rule the French Kingdom. Although Charles VII was crowned king in 1429, the English controlled Burgundian-ruled Paris. In an attempt to de-legitimize Charles' rule of the Franks, the English crowned nine-year-old Henry VI king of France on December 16, 1430, in Notre-Dame Cathedral. Paris was one of the last English strongholds that Joan of Arc had in her sights in the quest to complete her mission. On May 23, 1430, she was captured, having never successfully taken Paris. In 1909, Notre-Dame Cathedral hosted the beatification of Joan of Arc.

Now: Notre-Dame Cathedral is a must-see attraction in Paris. It is rich in history and its profound French Gothic architecture is stunning. The ornate rose windows and the east-end 50-foot flying buttresses are awe-inspiring. I did not take one photo approaching the cathedral when I saw it for the first time; its presence is overwhelming.  As I understand it, the stone of the cathedral was originally a light pink color. Trace evidence of this can be seen in the color variations of the façade.

The West Façade is a beautifully proportioned masterpiece with amazing detail. Its architecture stylized future Gothic fashion for centuries: stepped towers, stained glass rose window with intricate tracery and three decorative, sculpted portals introducing the central double-isled nave. The north (left) portal depicts stories in the life of the Mother Mary while the south (right) portal shows stories in the life of her mother Anne.


Portal of Christ

Subject: Central portal tympanum
Location: Notre-Dame Cathedral
Portrait: available upon request

Then: Notre-Dame Cathedral was built upon the site of a Gallo-Roman temple to Jupiter. Construction began in 1163 and was mostly finished by 1345, so Joan would have seen it very similarly to the way we see it today.

Now: The tympanum above the central portal shows the Last Judgment. Christ upon a throne as the supreme judge is flanked by angels with instruments of the Passion. Below Him is Archangel Michael (winged) holding the scale of judgment. The scale is tipped to the left, favoring the elect over the damned on the right being ushered into Hell. The lowest lintel shows an angel on the left sounding the trumpet to resurrect the dead and announce the Last Judgment. The archivolts surrounding the scene create a nice framing effect for the photo.



Subject: Chimière
Location: Notre-Dame Cathedral
Portrait: available upon request

Then: Gargoyles were employed to ward off evil (and drain water). Although this fits nicely with the witchcraft superstitions of Joan's day, the Gallery of Gargoyles (and the spire) were not added to Notre-Dame until the 19th century.

Now: Climb the steps to the third floor of the West Façade to visit the Galerie des Chimières. You'll find some very intriguing and gruesome gargoyles and you'll be treated to a fantastic view of the Parisian skyline. I found this shot interesting with the Eiffel Tower in the background and the shadow from the sun across the city.


The Counsel of My Lord

Subject: Joan of Arc
Location: Notre-Dame Cathedral
Portrait: purchase options

Then: "You have been with your counsel and I have been with mine. Believe me that the counsel of my Lord will be accomplished and will stand, and this counsel of yours will perish." Joan of Arc, Orléans, May 1429.

Now: Unlike Sacred Heart Cathedral, you are allowed to take pictures in Notre-Dame cathedral... and BOY do people take pictures. Once inside, you might mistake the atmosphere for that of a light show at a rock concert! With a popular subject like this Joan of Arc statue, constant flash photography makes it difficult to get the exposure you want. If you use a flash, this scene is very pale yellow and devoid of detail. If you don't, there are enough pocket-sized flash cameras going off to light a Hollywood movie set. Since there is barely standing room throughout the church, using slow shutter speeds is also difficult; you're likely to get bumped and be left with a smear for a photograph. This portrait took patience (as many do), timing and bracing the camera with the wall. I love the way the light shines upon Joan like God looking down from Heaven. The black and white composition adds effective contrast that is not present with the natural pale colors of the subject.


Notre-Dame Pietà

Subject: Mary mourning dead Christ
Location: Notre-Dame Cathedral
Portrait: available upon request

Then: Joan of Arc continually venerated the Mother Mary and Jesus. Sculptures of Pietà were vastly popular with Renaissance artists of the 15th and 16th centuries, such as Michelangelo.

Now: This scene is one continuous flash bulb. It sits at the apse of the Notre-Dame Cathedral and is vastly popular with visitors... and their cameras. Of course, I was one of them.


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