The Tragic Tale of Claire Ferchaud and the Great War

The Tragic Tale of Claire Ferchaud and the Great War

The Tragic Tale of Claire Ferchaud and the Great War

The Tragic Tale of Claire Ferchaud and the Great War

Synopsis

This is the moving and improbable story of Claire Ferchaud, a young French shepherdess who had visions of Jesus and gained national fame as a modern-day Joan of Arc at the height of World War I. Claire experienced her first vision after a childhood trauma in which her mother locked her in a closet to break her stubborn willfulness. She developed her visionary gifts with the aid of spiritual directors and, by the age of twenty, she had come to believe that Jesus wanted France consecrated to the Sacred Heart. Claire believed that if France undertook this devotion, symbolized by adding the image of the Sacred Heart to the French flag, it would enjoy rapid victory in the war. From her modest origins to her spectacular ascent, Claire's life and times are deftly related with literary verve and insight in a book that gives a rare view of the French countryside during the Great War.

Excerpt

Claire Ferchaud was born in the west of France at a place called Rinfillières. the date was 5 May 1896. the same day, Claire’s parents dressed her in a white christening gown and took her to the church at Le Puy-SaintBonnet, where she was christened Claire-Yvonne-Marie-Louise. There was nothing particularly auspicious about Claire’s birth or early youth, but her modest origins made her improbable ascent only more spectacular. By the end of 1916, in the midst of the First World War, Claire’s admirers compared her to Joan of Arc, the young woman who heard voices, put on men’s clothing, fought for France, and crowned a king.

Claire’s visions made her a regional—then national—celebrity as she promised speedy victory for France. in December of 1916, Claire was summoned to Poitiers, just as Joan had been in 1429, to account for herself before a learned body of powerful men of the Catholic Church. Although separated by five centuries, both women, Joan and Claire, impressed the men of Poitiers with their confidence and resolve, and both went on to perform prodigious feats. After Poitior sharing their profound understanding of this book in rich and perceptive reports that led me to make many changes in the version they encountered. Once again, as so often in the past, Peter’s understanding of what I was trying to do was clearer and deeper than mine, and he guided me along interpretive paths I wouldn’t otherwise have taken or even found.

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