Thursday, December 31, 2009

Not throws...we call em GIFTS!

I have mentioned before that technically Twelfth Night "should" be January 5th but that we in the U.S. celebrate it January 6th, the day's some good info on the evolution of celebrations associated with Twelfth Night...

Twelfth Night is of course the night that the Three Wise Men visited the Nativity and gave gifts...

We're giving gifts for Twelfth Night to parade goers, including some that reflect Joan's three Voices (St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret)--consider them, perhaps her Two Wise Women and One Wise Man. The photos above are of the Poor Clare Monastery on Henry Clay Avenue in Uptown New Orleans, where Sister Rita Hickey lives and makes crafts that are sold in their excellent gift shop.

She made 50 magnets of Joan's Voices (and some of Joan herself) just for us (don't worry, we paid The Poor Clares for them!), perfectly representing the sentiment of the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc...handmade items that we give, not THROW to the public.

It's one of the things that makes our parade a nice bridge between Christmas and Mardi Gras...we give gifts, we recognize Joan's Christian heritage, and we make cool stuff that's not plastic.

I mean, do you think it would have been cool if the Magi threw Baby Jesus some beads??? Okay don't answer that...

But do come to our parade in the hopes of catching stuff made by local hands.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Post-Parade Party: King cake, gypsy music & more!

We started a tradition last year in honor of Joan's birthday and Twelfth Night (January 6th) by asking people to bring cakes to share at her statue following the St. Joan of Arc Parade. Most brought King cakes, but there were some cupcakes and at least one birthday cake. Like last year, this year we are receiving a generous donation of King cakes from Gambino's Bakery, but given the crowd last year, we'll need more if everyone wants a piece! So bring what you want to share and prepare to hand it out at the party in honor of Joan's 598th birthday!
This year we'll have Joan of Arc crown a King at the statue and he'll help distribute the cake with Joan...
(It's just too cool how many things about Joan tie in naturally with Mardi Gras..she is our Maid and she was influential in crowning a King...her birthday is Twelfth Night..King cake=birthday cake, etc.!!)
Beyond cake there will be awesome music to dance to...stage will be a The Market Cafe, right behind the Joan statue, at 1000 Decatur. See you there!
6:45-7:45 Pierre Pichon and his Gyspy Swing Trio
8:00-9:00 Marc Gunn plays Celtic American musiC

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fabric Fans Unite! Free Costume Clinic January 3rd

Hands-on costume workshop at Joan of Arts Fete
visit fete schedule for details
Come ready to sew or at least come ready to get inspired...bring any and all material you can get your hands on, from your old sheets to those red curtains and beige tablecloths you stuffed in a drawer four years ago and haven't touched since...bring the funky fabric and trim you inherited from your Aunt Susan, and any and all items that you can contribute to the cause of making medieval costumes cheaply. Sweatshirts, sweatpants welcome...we can turn those into medieval looking items too!!

(We're fortunate Joan was born in medieval times and is not a Renaissance gal. It makes costume making much simpler...)

Whether you are a hopeful Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc member, a current member still figuring out what to wear as you stroll down Chartres on Twelfth Night, or someone just interested in learning more about how to turn thrift store stuff into authentic, fun costumes, join us from 12 noon to 4:oo p.m. at the Bienville House hotel in the Board room, a lovely cozy room just off the hotel lobby in this French Quarter boutique hotel. Come to 320 Decatur Street and ask for the costume clinic! Bring any sewing supplies you can...we want to be sure there's plenty of scissors, thread, and tape measures to go around!
(and hey if you're reading this and don't give a damn about making a costume but have fabric or sheets or whatever we can use that you want to dump on us, please do! email amy at and she will gladly take it off your hands!!)

Jeanne d'Arc Cabaret!! Medieval songs and More!

A prelude to the second annual St. Joan of Arc parade January 6, Twelfth Night

(New Orleans, LA—December 29, 2009)—The Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc announces the Jeanne d’Arc Cabaret, a culmination to their first annual Joan of Arts Fete, a free all-day conference about medieval culture, French culture, pop culture and Joan of Arc. Participants can choose from French language workshops, a medieval costume clinic, and presentations by local historians, artists, and members of the religious community about such topics as: “Joan and Prophecy”, “Joan as Muse” and “Medieval Culture: The Times in Which Joan Lived”.

Jeanne d’Arc Cabaret highlights include performances of medieval music by local groups Musica Da Camera and Wolmegut, theatrical performances about Joan of Arc, as well as a presentation of new songs written that day at the Joan of Arts Fete in a workshop led by local singer/songwriter Paul Sanchez.

The Fete is free and open to the public. The Cabaret is a fundraiser for the Krewe, in preparation for their expanded second annual St. Joan of Arc Parade, which includes fire dancers, an authentic medieval cart, two Joans on horseback, medieval musicians, and handmade throws including St. Joan medallions, decorated wooden swords, painted coins, and more.

For the full fete and parade schedule, visit To stay updated about all events, become a FACEBOOK fan of the Joan of Arc Project, and follow the Krewe blog at


7-7:15 p.m. Musica Da Camera plays medieval music
7:15-7:20 Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc welcome and announcements
7:20-7:30 p.m. NOCCA students perform a scene from George Bernard Shaw's SAINT JOAN play
7:30-7:40 ArtSpot Productions performs two songs from their 2004 performance piece "The Maid of Orleans"
7:45-8:00 NYC playwright Kathleen Kelly performs a theatrical work-in-progress from her plays about Joan
8:00-8:15 Musica Da Camera plays medieval music
8:20-8:30 NOCCA students perform a scene from Shaw's SAINT JOAN play
8:30-9:00 Paul Sanchez & songwriting students perform their newly written folk songs about Jeanne d'Arc and New Orleans! Audience votes on the best ode!
9:00-9:30 Wolmegut plays medieval music--great for dancing!

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Willing to trade some muscle for krewe membership?

We have a hefty, historically authentic medieval cart that needs pulling...

It's the only thing resembling a float in our parade. But it needs human labor to get it going...this ain't no tractor pull...we're a walking parade with feet and horses and maybe a tiny wagon or two...

AND contrary to some misperceptions, we do have men and boys in our parade! It's by no means an all-female festivity...think about it. Joan's goal in life was to please God and crown the Dauphin the King of France. Along the way her comrades included the Bastard of Orleans and many many soldiers, pages, priests, and peasants.

In other words, Joan was surrounded by dudes and her success was largely due in part to them.

We still need and want more men to join and play any of the above roles...or even the ones not as friendly to Joan but still necessary to her history, like judges, bishops--even prison guards and executioners.

Contact Amy at if you want to join as any of the above--and if you're strong and willing to pull the cart with several others, we will waive your krewe membership!!!

(come on, it's only 8 blocks through the Quarter...)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Joan of Arts Fete pre-parade fest & krewe party January 3rd

The Joan of Arts Fête Sunday, January 3rd
at The Bienville House Hotel 320 Decatur Street, NOLA, 70130

A pre-parade all day fest about all things Joan of Arc!

10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Panel discussions, conversations, workshops & member info—FREE!!!

***There will be a SILENT AUCTION at the Fete including amazing medieval-inspired artwork, Joan of Arc jewelry, books & related ephemera. All proceeds from the silent auction will be given to our krewe charity, Metro Battered Women’s Shelter. Come and bid throughout the day!***

5:30-6:30 p.m. Krewe Dinner Party at Iris Restaurant—$50 for Krewe members & friends. French meal & wine BYO wine. Reservations required by 12/31/09 @

7:00-9:00 p.m. Jeanne d’Arc Cabaret & Krewe Party—Open to the Public, free to Krewe members--$10 minimum donation @ the door!

All day 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Krewe Countdown: LAST CHANCE TO JOIN! Meet members of the Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc, sign up to walk with us, get your Joan swag and costume assistance! All day at the Bienville House Hotel at the Membership Table in the Vieux Carre Room!


10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Power French Workshop conducted by members of our local French cultural & educational center Alliance Francaise. Start the day off learning a few key French phrases, as well as some fun Joan of Arc related phrases to use during the parade. Meet Alliance Francaise members firsthand to learn more about this worldwide network’s local branch and how you can get involved.

11:15-12:15 Joan as Muse: A discussion of Joan’s inspirational influences and portrayals in various art forms, from the visual arts to the performing arts and film. Panelists include Janet Shea, local award-winning actress and the Assistant Department Chair in Theatre Arts at New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and Thais St. Julien, co-director, Musica Da Camera. NOCCA theater students who are currently studying and performing George Bernard Shaw’s SAINT JOAN will also join the conversation.


Make it Medieval: Costumes and More! Local costume designer Antoinette de Alteriis and other local designers and seamstresses assist last minute parade walkers with costumes. Those curious about joining and walking with us will have a chance to get inspired and learn some tricks about turning their current closet and/or recently bought thrift store clothes into medieval wearables. Also ongoing in this workshop room will be opportunities to assist with making throws and posters and other Krewe swag.

*** Participants need to bring some of their own costume materials. Email with any questions. We will send you a list of materials we’ll have available. Be brave! Come ready to be measured and make a costume in 4 hours or less! ****

12:30-1:30 Medieval Culture: The Times in Which Joan Lived: We know Joan was unusual, but what about her also made her “an average medieval girl”? What is the historical & cultural context in which she became Joan of Arc? Leading us in discussion is Dr. John T. Sebastian, Director of Medieval Studies at Loyola University, with Thais St. Julien, founding director of Musica Da Camera’s women’s chorus Vox Feminae, offering insights regarding her extensive research of women’s roles during the Middle Ages.

1:45-2:45 p.m. What Joan Means: Who She Was Then, What She Represents Now. Joan is viewed, used, admired, and beloved differently by different populations. While considered a feminist icon by some in the United States (although she was in fact more a woman of her times than we may admit), in France, she is utilized as a nationalist symbol and has been used by both sides of the political arena for centuries. Catholics finally named her a Saint 500 years after her death, and artists and writers endlessly evoke her in their work and obsessively study her. This discussion includes insights by New York-based writer and scholar Kathleen Kelly and New Orleans musician and French native Raphael Bas, both admirers of Joan, for different reasons.

3:00-4:00 Prophecy and Pilgrimage: Joan and the Bible. The test of a true prophet of God, according to the Bible, was 100% accuracy in all predictions. The penalty for making even one mistake was death. That’s a high standard to keep! Joan of Arc’s many detailed prophecies were famous even in her own day—but did she meet the Biblical standards of a true prophet of God? Author and composer Chris Snidow explores this fascinating aspect of Joan’s legacy. He and his French wife Catherine will also make a presentation about the Joan of Arc pilgrimages they lead to France annually.

4:15-5:15 p.m. Joan’s Canonization: It’s About Time! Sister Rita, OSC, of the local Poor Clares Monastery explains in laymen terms the processes we’ve all heard but don’t quite understand…just how does someone become a Saint? And why did it take so long for Joan to be named one? In conversation with author and musician Brian Morgan, OCDS, a formerly strictly-cloistered monk and now a Tertiary in the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites.

4:30-6:00 Songwriting Workshop. Led by local singer/songwriter Paul Sanchez, this workshop challenges local musicians to pen a spontaneous song about Joan and be ready to present it “American Idol” style at the Jeanne d’Arc Cabaret & Krewe Party that same evening! Bring your instrument and your creative energy to channel Joan, New Orleans style! Songwriters must commit to presenting their work to us!

7:00-9:00 Jeanne d’Arc Cabaret and Krewe Party : Musical Performances by New Orleans’ very own Musica da Camera, the oldest surviving early music organization in the country; singer/songwriter Paul Sanchez and members of his Joan of Arc songwriting workshop present their newly written odes; NYC writer and performer Kathleen Kelly presents pieces from her Off-Off Broadway play about Joan of Arc; NOCCA students present scenes from George Bernard Shaw’s SAINT JOAN! More entertainment to be announced! Drinks for sale and champagne toast to the Krewe! Help us get our groove on before the parade!
Celebrate our second year and Joan’s 598th birthday with us!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Parade throws: Medallions, Swords, and more!

This year our signature throws will be handpainted Joan of Arc medallions provided by These were our signature throws our inaugural year--and as we like to say, they weren't thrown! We are proud to be a walking krewe who hands out our few and thematic items (prayer cards, ceramic butterflies, matchbooks) with care--and sometimes on bended knee, as was the case w/ our medallion-giver Rob Clemenz last year!

NEW!!! We will also have 16 individually decorated wooden swords that our student "Maid of Honor" leading our parade will give out to parade-goers. These represent Joan's age of sixteen when she left home to fight the English, and the age she was when she found her legendary sword at the church of St. Catherine of Fierbois.

Another new special throw: Limited edition magnets with images of Saint Catherine, Saint Margaret, and Saint Michael (Joan's Voices) handmade by local Poor Clare Sister Rita, OSC, who sells her crafts at the Monastery gift shop Uptown on Henry Clay Avenue.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Authentic Medieval Cart in Progress!

Thanks to the efforts of one of our original krewe members (who participated in Joan brainstorming sessions long before we formed a parade) Molly Jahncke, Assistant Director of Public Relations and Marketing at Delgado Community College, we are going to have some wheels in the parade this year--historically accurate ones!!!

As a Service Learning project led by Director Sterling Brignac, participants in Delgado’s Building Crafts Apprentice Training program have created an authentic Medieval cart that will be donated for annual use in the Krewe of St. Joan of Arc Parade and related events.

The apprentice training program, created through a partnership of Delgado, LTC and The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment (U.K.) with the Preservation Resource Center and Louisiana Carpenters Union, is the nation’s first and only of its kind. Its aim is to create master craftsmen in the areas of carpentry/millwork, masonry, plastering, metalwork and stained glass who can apply their traditional skills to restoration and sustainable new building in New Orleans.

The carpentry/millwork apprentices, Vitto Ingerto, Michelle Martin, John Robert Portman, Ben Sanady, Phung Tran, J.A. Jaquet and Malcom Harding, have researched, designed and hand-built an historically accurate Medieval cart under the direction of Carpenter Journeyman Carl Treitler Jr. and master British artisans Steve Sinney and Kieran Wint.

The cart is crafted of reclaimed cypress and oak, rough hewn as it would have been in St. Joan’s time, and it will make its first appearance at the Joan of Arts Fete on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010.

Sunday, November 1, 2009




What young female leader in New Orleans do you know ages 16-19 who could be our "Maid of Honor" this year? Caveat: She has to speak some French!

Visit for application and info.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Next book club November 18..time to get reading!

If you're like me, squeezing in my reading time before bed is about the only way I can get through a book or novel or magazine these days. So this weekend I started reading our next book for our November 18th discussion, JOAN OF ARC: HER STORY by Regine Pernoud. I would encourage you to get it soon because it's our most in-depth so far and the one that makes you want to read more and other books about the times in which Joan lived...that's likely because its author was a medievalist, and you can feel it..she's tenacious about the details. It's also of course wonderful to read a book (albeit translated) by a French historian about Joan of Arc, compared to the first book we read by an American Catholic feminist (Mary Gordon) and the second by an Irish socialist (George Bernard Shaw)!

What makes Pernoud's research and presentation all the more credible is that in the introduction Pernoud admits to having been a Joan skeptic and completely indifferent to Joan for years. Her attitude reminds me of the kind of adolescent disdain I've had for people that "everyone" seems to be interested in...if she's so popular, I'm going to ignore her...I am not going to fall for it!

But when she comes across Joan's trial notes she finds herself undeniably astounded and cannot resist the pull to find out more. What results is several books about Joan, a testament to her sincere fascination in someone she'd written off originally as no more than an overused symbol of nationalism (as Joan was so used during Pernoud's lifetime in France) and a possible myth.

Indeed, this change of heart and attention to documentation is what makes this book so satisfying. It's not a traditional biography, as Kirkus Reviews explains:

Kirkus Reviews
A useful and innovative documentary history of the15th-century French insurrectionist. Pernoud, who died in April, has supplemented her previous biography, Joan of Arc (1966), by offering readers this annotated explanation of the controversial saint's historical record. It isn't a biography per se and doesn't follow the standard biographical format of piecing together the available sources to present readers with a chronological narrative. Rather, Pernoud and Clin introduce readers to Joan as she has appeared in various documents, such as the one, contemporary with her lifetime, referring to her as a French peasant girl gathering armed forces to augment the beleaguered ranks of the dauphin's regiment. Information about her birth and childhood is unveiled only in chapter nine, since Joan rose from relative obscurity, and since no one cared enough to inquire formally into her origins until almost three decades after her death. The approach of Pernoud and Clin, both independent scholars in France, thus offers valuable insight into the nature of history and its practices; documents, as their book demonstrates, should always be weighed carefully against one another when any past event is being interpreted. The authors note that while many legends have emerged about Joan (the third section delves into some of these), more verifiable factual information exists about her than about Plato, Julius Caesar, or Jesus.

Remember that Garden District Book Shop, who hosts our discussions, also offers Joan of Arc Book Club members a discount. Deborah McDonald, store manager, is well-read about Joan and much much more...stop in and visit..and come back Wednesday November 18th if you can for our conversation about Joan.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Joan on Facebook!



Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thank you NOCCA students!

Last night, New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts student performers Victoria Summrall, Dean Wray, Dominique Dixon, Sean O’Brien, and Stephen Bertucci presented excerpts from George Bernard Shaw's SAINT JOAN as a prelude to the open discussion of the full-length play at the St. Joan of Arc Book Club. The student presentation was directed and arranged by their teacher, Assistant Department Chair Theatre Arts and local actress Janet Shea.

It was truly amazing and inspiring (as well as educational) to see these young people embody Joan, the Dauphin, and the Bastard of Orleans. The two scenes they presented were excellent examples of Joan's ability to persuade, coax, and bully these very different men (an ineffectual Dauphin and an accomplished soldier) into doing what she wanted and needed! Or, rather, what her Voices told her to do!!

It was especially cool to see youth portray often it's actors a decade older than Joan who take on Shaw's work and other plays about Joan. Their vitality and earnestness made the pieces seem particularly authentic.

The students and book club members had a lively discussion after the presentation, made so by the variety in ages and perspectives. Thanks to NOCCA for this special experience. We can't wait to find additional ways to partner and showcase your talented students' work!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

ANNOUNCING: Joan of Arc Student Contest!


The Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc announces its first annual student Joan of Arc competition for French-speaking young women in New Orleans. The winner will be chosen to lead the second annual New Orleans St. Joan of Arc parade on January 6, 2010 in the French Quarter. This contest is modeled after the contest held annually in Orléans, France, when they select a local girl to lead their military parade celebrating Joan’s victorious lifting of the siege of Orléans from the British in 1428.

There is no fee to enter the contest. The Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc will provide the costume and horse and parade training/riding lessons for the selected Joan. If applicants do have previous riding experience, please let us know.
You can either ask to receive an application form via email or use the information below to create your own application. As long as all the information required is clearly included, we will gladly accept it.

Eligibility: This contest is open to young women, 16-19 years old (the ages of Joan’s most notable feats and trial), who have shown unique leadership abilities and are currently or have recently studied French in high school, college, or at home. (The candidate must be able to speak some French in conversation and be able to represent Joan for media opportunities, public presentations, and at the parade). This contest does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, ancestry or creed. The three top candidates will receive a brief phone interview to assess French fluency and confidence so we may choose the best possible candidate.

1. Completed entry form (see below) including evidence of community involvement and proven leadership abilities.
2. In 250 words or less, describe a time that you, like Joan, believed in yourself and became a leader. How did you inspire others to action? What did you accomplish? Explain both your successes and failures in this leadership endeavor.
3. In 100 words or less, explain how Joan’s story has inspired you and why she is an important symbol for New Orleans.
4. Submit one letter of recommendation from someone (any age) who has witnessed your unique leadership abilities.

All entries must be submitted no later than November 1, 2009
to or by mail to
P.O. BOX 56815 NEW ORLEANS LA 70156-6815

· Winners will be announced on December 6, 2009
· Winner must be available to lead the Krewe of Saint Joan of Arc procession at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 6th 2010
· Winner must be available (pending school and other obligations) for t.v. and radio appearances.

Name (Last, First, Middle Initial):
High School
French Teacher
Street address
Phone number

(If under 18 – Include parents’ name and phone number)

Leadership and Community Service:

Please list your experience performing volunteer and community service work. Include name of organization, a brief description of your duties, dates and number of hours you performed the work.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Joan for Mayor T-Shirts are a reality!

Look for these tshirts to be on sale exclusively at POP CITY across from the Joan of Arc statue at St. Phillip and Decatur Streets. Partial proceeds benefit The Joan of Arc Project and krewe members will receive a discount. These will be on sale by Labor Day weekend. Email any special orders to me at

I really have Brad Pitt to thank for this..if a well-meaning Hollywood actor can be nominated for New Orleans mayor and have a tshirt made for him, why can't we run our unofficial patron saint of the City? After all, she's got a statue. Brad just has tshirts.

(Who knows, it's possible that in the end Joan endorses Brad...we'll have to wait and see what her Voices say..she had the power to get the Dauphin crowned, remember? Behind every good male candidate is...)

Thank you Tom Harvey for the awesome design! And thank you Rhonda at Pop City for being our tshirt goddess!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The French Embassy loves us!

For the second time this year, the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. has covered our Joan of Arc activities in their monthly newsletter, News from France.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Shaw's SAINT JOAN to be discussed September 16th

Join us September 16th for our second gathering of the Joan of Arc Book Club at Garden District Book Shop on Prytania Street from 6-7:30 p.m. You can get a copy of the play at a discount at the store:

The event is free and the spirit is one of open discussion. Many who joined us last time came to ask questions about the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc...some came to tell stories about Joan and/or her statue in the Quarter, and to express their thoughts about her as a perfect icon for New Orleans. Indeed, it's just as much a Joan of Arc fan club as anything...and an informal way to get together if you are curious about Joan!

We look forward to opening the discussion this time with the reading of parts of Shaw's play by local actors. Please join us and bring a friend. It's great if you come prepared to discuss and react to the play, but we welcome anyone who just wants to sit in and enjoy the conversation.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bienville House offers special JEANNE D'ARC RATES!

Pass it on to your friends and family coming into town for the fete and parade! Our sponsor hotel is holding rooms just for them...stay at our fete and parade headquarters, walk out the door and right to the Bienville statue on January 6th for the parade's beginnings! Centrally located in the French Quarter, gorgeous boutique hotel with lots of character...lovely courtyard and great restaurant, Iris. Walking distance to everything you'd need above and beyond our fabulous festivities. Link here for reservations and more hotel info:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Our parade is five months away!

Tomorrow is August 6th and that marks five months till we get's sweltering here in New Orleans and hard to imagine wearing wool and velvet, armor and leather...but alas! Now's the time to contact us to secure your spot.

If you wish to become a member of the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc, or want to present at the Joan of Arts Fete please contact Amy at

Membership will remain open through October but will need to confirm our participants no later than November 1st, All Saints' Day!

As for the Fete, the schedule will be finalized by October 3rd, three months from the Fete.

Thanks for your interest in the Maid of Orleans, and we hope to see you when the weather cools!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Joan did her THANG today!

When Joan said "I was born for this" she meant she was born to crown the Dauphin the King of France. She made it happen--AND attended his coronation with the banner she carried on the battlefield. Because this was (pun intended) her "crowning achievement", it's something we need to remember her for first and foremost, rather than the most common image of her as a burning martyr. For this reason, we intend to crown a king on Twelfth Night at the Joan statue at the end of the parade route. We already have the King cake...we just need a King!
Our friend Ben Kennedy, fellow Joan blogger, writes all about the coronation and Joan's role in it here:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Local columnist calls Joan "The New 'it' Girl!"

Thank you Chris Rose for recognizing Joan as a hipster--and relevant! He gives the krewe a great shout out about our book club, starting tomorrow tonight.

And, he says, in typical NOLA style, the only thinking left to do is to name a drink after her.

Well...we actually have a cocktail contest in the works...we met recently with our sponsor hotel, The Bienville House Hotel, and their restaurant, Iris, about a Joan of Arc cocktail contest for December 6th, one month out from the parade as a way to get the word out about our new route! Look for our tents at the Bienville statue and come out and drink and vote!
Julie, our art director, has been texting me drink ideas for months...come taste and choose...cinammon flavored holy water...hmmm!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Joan goes postal!

We have gone 20th century with a post office box so you can contact us via envelope regarding membership, send us your information to propose panels and workshops for the Joan of Arts Fete (see website for additional details), send us cool packages and postcards (i.e., should you be traveling to Domremy or Rouen anytime soon), and anything Joan-related!


P.O. BOX 56815

NEW ORLEANS LA 70156-6815

Check out the website for additional information on ways you can get involved with us:

"Let Them Eat Cake" event at the French Market, featuring Joan!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Joan of Arc for Mayor of New Orleans!

Today in the Quarter I saw some people sporting "Brad Pitt for Mayor" t-shirts.

But I have a better idea.

Why not Joanie on the Pony for Mayor? Why not someone who stands for something? Why not a fierce female who is honest rather than so many of our politicians who couldn't hold a flame to her?
How about a 598-year-old female who knows how to fight and believes in herself and can inspire rather than embarrass? Why not a leader who doesn't care for money or glory and who obeys her own Voices? Last year an Oklahoma town elected a 19 year old for Mayor...Joan was 19 when she died and she'd already saved her country and crowned a King. Quite a resumé.
Could she be any worse than any living politician? I think not. So I say...let the games begin. Joan for Mayor. Write her in!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bastille Day events with Jeanne d' Arc!

Celebrate Bastille Day at the French Market with Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc!

Sunday, July 12 2:00-4:00 p.m. “LET THEM EAT CAKE!” EVENT at the Market Café
Tuesday, July 14 10:30-11:00 a.m. WREATH-LAYING CEREMONY at the Jeanne d’Arc statue

New Orleans, July 7, 2009---The French Market will celebrate Bastille Day twice: on Sunday, July 12th, and on Bastille Day Tuesday, July 14th. Both events, appropriate for the entire family, are free and open to the public. Come down to the Market and celebrate liberté, égalité and fraternité with your fellow New Orleanians!

Indulge in some Francophile fun on Sunday, July 12th, for a tongue-in-cheek nod to Marie Antoinette's infamous line that inspired the French Revolution, "LET THEM EAT CAKE!" for a complimentary cake and champagne party and costume contest at The Market Cafe's outdoor patio. Special guests dressed as Napoleon (MIKKO, Living History Project), Joan of Arc (Caye Mitchell, Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc), and a mime impersonating Marcel Marceau will be present; guests are encouraged to dress as these famous French people or any French character of their choice (Marie Antoinette, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Cyrano de Bergerac etc.). Located adjacent to the New Place de France where the Jeanne d'Arc statue stands at Decatur and St. Phillip Streets, The Market Cafe will serve special French menu items in honor of Bastille Day.

SUNDAY JULY 12TH “LET THEM EAT CAKE!” The Market Café 1000 Decatur St.

2:00-4:00 p.m. Pierre Pichon Gypsy Swing Trio plays French Gypsy Jazz
2:30-p.m. Champagne Toast and Le Marseillaise sing-a-long led by Napoleon and Joan of Arc
3:00 p.m. Complimentary cake served
3:15 p.m. French character costume contest*: OPEN TO ALL AGES!

********Costume contestants must come dressed by 2:30 to register for the contest. The winner will receive a gift basket of Francophile items from French Market retail stores valued at $200.**********

Tuesday, July 14th “LA FETE NATIONALE FRANCAISE” Place de France

10:00 a.m. Guests arrive at the Jeanne d’ Arc Statue at Decatur and St. Phillip Streets
10:30 a.m. Welcome speech from Cecile Andry, president of Council of French Societies (in French, then in English)
10:40 a.m. Olivier Brochenin, Consul General of France in Louisiana
10:45 a.m. Amy Kirk Duvoisin, Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc
10:50 a.m. Ken Ferdinand, French Market Corporation
11:00 a.m. Toast and singing of Le Marseillaise
Join us for breakfast* at The Market Café afterwards!
*Breakfast optional and not complimentary.

Honor Bastille Day in a ceremonial fashion with The Council of French Societies and The Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc on Tuesday, July 14th. His Honorable, Olivier Brochenin, Consul General of France in Louisiana, will speak and lay the wreath at the statue of Jeanne d’Arc. Ken Ferdinand, Executive Director of the French Market, will offer a toast. Complimentary wine and champagne will be served to guests for the toast and singing of Le Marseillaise and complimentary cupcakes will be served by the Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc, featuring Caye Mitchell dressed in armor as Joan.

To view parking and maps, visit

Monday, June 29, 2009


Last year we were a bit renegade, which was all well and medieval, but this year we are charging dues to be able to pay for things like insurance and more throws, finer costumes and more birthday candles for Joan. Doesn't she deserve 598 rather than 50? (And if we could go back in time, we'd use the money to pay for her lawyer! Or, wait. As someone pointed out to me recently, she may have been WORSE off if she'd been represented!)
If you are interested in joining us, please send me an email at and tell me a bit about yourself, why you want to join, what kind of costume you already have or intend to wear, and I'll send you the p.o. box for mailing us your dues as well as other details and dates. We want everyone to have a specific role for walking with us, so either suggest a few or if you want to be assigned something, great! We have plenty of roles we want to fill...from executioner to angels.


$250 support Joan and send her and her army into battle. Because of you the parade and fete will be possible and parade participants will be well armed with throws and lovely stuff! You will be invited to the krewe party and have all membership benefits, plus a special soiree just for royalty honoring the crowning of the Dauphin (which really occurred on July 17 but whew that's hot so we'll do something in the winter for ya..)

$100 The Army. You are a member of Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc and will be armed with throws and plenty of faith and good company. You will walk with us but must provide your own costume. You may participate in the Krewe Party on January 5th at the Bienville House Hotel for a fee. You will be invited to key organizational meetings, will receive email updates, and must come to one informational meeting in December.

$50 Peasant. You can join at this level as an individual walker OR as a family (limited to 5 which equals $10 per member.) You will need to provide your own throws and costumes and we will provide workshops for those who want ideas and guidance about making handmade throws. You will receive email reminders and must attend one informational meeting in December.

$10 Bastard! You support Joan and the Army from afar and get a bumpersticker that says: PROUD TO BE A BASTARD! Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc to wear proudly on your armor or armored vehicle. You can't walk with us but you please join us at the beginning or end of the parade for our Bienville statue send-off and/or Joan statue soiree.

Contact Amy at with any questions!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Joan of Arc Book Club begins July 15

On the day after Bastille Day, we'll be meeting at Garden District Book Shop on Prytania Street at 6:00 p.m. to begin what we hope is an annual tradition...the Joan of Arc Book Club, a three-part series created out of public demand to know more about our "Joanie on the Ponie".

Known to many locals by her golden French Quarter statue, and to others from their Catholic childhoods as "St. Joan", most don't know the amazing details of her short life, nor the additional characters that inhabited it and helped her to succeed--or caused her to fail.

The three selections below were chosen for their range of information, accessibility, and scholarly importance. The group will be led by Garden District Manager and Book Club Diva Deborah McDonald, who, lucky for us, is also a lead member of the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc.

Each book night we'll have some entertainment to kick off the discussion. For example, for the second book club on September 16th, NOCCA students will read and perform excerpts from Shaw's play.

The Garden District Book Shop will offer a 20% discount for book club participants on these three titles.

JULY 15TH 6-7:15 p.m. JOAN OF ARC: A LIFE by Mary Gordon

SEPTEMBER 16TH 6-7:15 p.m. SAINT JOAN by George Bernard Shaw

NOVEMBER 18TH, 6-7:15 p.m. JOAN OF ARC: HER STORY by by Regine Pernoud and Marie-Veronique Clin.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mermaids, Warriors, and Knights Welcome!

Traveling Mermaid, a New Orleans blog penned by a woman named Charlotte, mentioned The Joan of Arc Project in her latest entry. Thanks, Charlotte--and come out and join us! Mermaids, warriors, knights, kings, queens, peasants, fairies, and even judges and bishops are welcome!

Membership for the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc opens in mid-June 2009, after our first official board meeting.

Email if you'd like to receive a notice with membership details. Stay tuned here and to Membership will be $100 for individuals. Additional tiers tbd.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Contact: Amy A. Kirk-Duvoisin, Director, The Joan of Arc Project

(504) 251-5046



New Orleans, May 8, 2009---Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc members, French Quarter community leaders, business owners, Francophiles, musicians, and artists gathered at The Bienville House Hotel courtyard on Friday, May 8, to celebrate the expansion of The St. Joan of Arc Parade--which rolled for the first time this Twelfth Night, January 6, 2009--into the multifaceted non-profit, the Joan of Arc Project..

Guests were treated to food by Iris Restaurant, French gypsy jazz music by Pierre Pichon, krewe members dressed as Joan of Arc (Caye Mitchell and Kelley Fauchaeux), horses dressed in medieval costumery, signature throws, and announcements by krewe members and community leaders (photos available upon request).

The mission of the St. Joan of Arc Project is to celebrate the relationship of Joan of Arc to New Orleans and to highlight the relationship and lineage of New Orleans to France. The Project is a secular organization whose primary focus is to produce an annual parade and an annual fete honoring Joan of Arc; inspire the public to visit her statue in the French Quarter and understand its significance to New Orleans; represent the medieval times in which she lived; present an artistic interpretation of her pursuits, successes, and failures; celebrate French holidays and significant dates with the public as an opportunity to honor New Orleans’ French heritage; and to evoke pride in our city’s uniqueness by utilizing Joan as a symbol of individual strength, determination, and loyalty.

The Joan of Arc Project is comprised of the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc, The Joan of Arts Fete, and the St. Joan of Arc Parade. The first annual Fete, an all day arts and culture conference focusing on Joan of Arc and medieval culture, will be held on January 3, 2010, at the Bienville House Hotel, the official hotel of the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc. The second annual St. Joan of Arc Parade will roll again on Twelfth Night, but with an extended route beginning at the Bienville statue at Decatur, going up Conti to Chartres, down Chartres through Jackson Square to St. Phillip, to the Joan of Arc statue at Decatur. The Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc will participate in all of the above activities, as well as other French heritage and artistic events throughout the year.

As founder Amy A. Kirk-Duvoisin said on Friday, "We are here to put the French back in the French Quarter and the artistry back into Mardi Gras!" She said the group is committed to being a traditional Mardi Gras walking parade, emphasizing the creation of handmade costumes and throws, including handpainted Saint Joan medallions from and ceramic butterflies made by local artist Julie Wallace, which were given to guests at Friday's gathering.. As Kirk-Duvoisin explained, "Everything we do with the St. Joan of Arc Parade has meaning and relates to the theme...the butterflies reflect the legend that Joan's banner was followed by white butterflies everywhere she went...although we are committed to the historical truth of Joan's story, we are equally intrigued by the artistry she evokes, using the many stories and myths about her as our

Another interesting artistic venture was the mention of Delgado Community' College's Carpentry program's partnership with the Project through the college's service-learning program to create authentic, wooden, medieval carts for the 2010 parade. Beyond the French Quarter, Garden District Book Shop on Prytania Street has offered to host a Joan of Arc Book Club, led by Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc member and GDB manager Deborah McDonald . The book shop will host three nights of discussion--in July, September, and November--and offer a 20% discount on selected books. See "calendar" page for book titles and exact dates.

Kirk-Duvoisin also spoke of the significance of the new parade route. "Just as there would be no France without Joan of Arc, there would not be a New Orleans without Bienville and the time we reach Joan's statue on Twelfth Night, after beginning at the Bienville Statue and walking through Jackson Square, we hope that Joan is as well-known to New Orleanians as those two are!"

This historical aspect of the parade seems key to the support offered by Kenneth Ferdinand, Executive Director of The French Market Corporation, which oversees the New Place de France, where the golden Joan of Arc statue stands. "We are proud of all of the cultures that have made New Orleans, but we are especially excited to honor our French heritage in the French Quarter, with the help of The Maid of Orleans".

After Mr. Ferdinand spoke, Cecile Andry, President of the New Orleans Council of French Societies, expressed her enthusiasm for this new group. "The Joan of Arc Project seemed to come out of thin air, and is coming at a perfect time to breathe new life into the many French cultural organizations in the city, " she said. She then encouraged attendees to come to the Market Cafe on Decatur Street behind the Joan of Arc statue on Bastille Day, July 14, at 10:30 a.m., to celebrate France's day of independence with The Council of French Societies, Consulate General of France, The Joan of Arc Project, and others.

There were many other French connections mentioned, such as choosing May 8 for the Project launch: On this day, in Orleans, France, the French celebrate Joan's military victory against the English and its significance in altering the course of the Hundred Years' War and ultimately, in saving France from the English. Kirk-Duvoisin pointed out that in Orleans, citizens were celebrating both the May 8th victory in 1429 as well as VE "Victory over Europe" day, when the Nazis surrendered to the Allies. She also noted that the inspiration for the St. Joan of Arc Parade was born of the parade and festival they hold each year in France, at which Joan of Arc is a central figure.

"Just as they do in France, we will have a contest, which will be announced at the beginning of next schoolyear, to choose a girl who will lead our parade...each year we will have a New Orleans' high school girl lead us...most Mardi Gras parades have Kings and Queens..we will have a Maid lead us."

Others present at the event expressed their enthusiasm for the Joan of Arc Project and its many plans and possibilties. One woman brought a sculpture she had made signifying Joan's burning at the stake. Another woman, a filmmaker, offered to arrange a film series for the Project, including the classic silent Carl Dreyer film from 1928, "The Passion of Joan of Arc."

On the business side of things, Community Affairs Director of the French Quarter Business Association, Annie Flettrich, was present, stating that she had attended the inaugural parade. "We welcome this vibrant, culturally rich, and educational event to the French Quarter and support all efforts to keep it going," she stated. Larry Hesdorffer, Director of the Vieux Carré Commission, said, "This is great (because) it's got such meaning and historical value..."

Shannon Fitzpatrick, from Metropolitan Women and Girl's Center, which serves battered women and rape victims, said the organization was invited to join because Joan of Arc is considered the patron saint of domestic violence victims. In her speech, Kirk-Duvoisin said that the Metropolitan Center was the Project's chosen charity partner, and that they'd be folded into the parade with typical Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc quirkiness..."We're thinking of making them dress in armor and hold a sign that says 'TAKE BACK THE KNIGHTS..."

Kirk-Duvoisin noted that you don't have to be French--or speak it--to join the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc or participate in some way with the Joan of Arc Project. Kirk-Duvoisin has no French bloodline, but she was pleased to find out that her Scottish heritage was linked in some way to Joan of Arc. "Many people don't realize how many connections there are to Joan of Arc. For example, we have Bob Grubb here today, who will be at the front of next year's parade with other bagpipers from New Orleans, because Joan of Arc was led into Orleans in 1429 by bagpipers...the Scots formed an army to join her in battle to fight against their common enemy, the English."

She closed her speech by inviting artists, musicians, costume designers, historians, and basically anyone with an interest in Joan of Arc to contact the group via its newly launched website,

"We even found a place for the Krewe de Faye, a Mardi Gras group that dresses up as fairies, to participate in next year's parade...because Joan of Arc probably danced at the fairy tree in her hometown of Domremy, although she denied it during her trial. But we think she probably did dance there, like any normal medieval girl would. And we're okay with that. She was human, after all."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thank you, Bienville House and Iris Restaurant!

Today's media party at the Bienville House was a treat..perfect weather from Mother Nature, delicious food from Iris Restaurant, a gorgeous courtyard setting provided by The Bienville House Hotel, amazing music from Pierre Pichon and company, and great eye candy provided by several krewe members in costume.
Above, Cecile Andry, president of the Council of French Societies, speaks about her enthusiasm for the Joan of Arc Project and our upcoming Bastille Day celebration on July 14th at 10:30 a.m. at The Market Cafe, behind the Joan of Arc statue at New Place de France (St. Phillip and Decatur Streets).
Artists, community organizations, writers, photographers, krewe members, and French Quarter businesses were present today to celebrate the launch of our website, the expansion of our group from the St. Joan Parade to the Joan of Arc Project, (which includes the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc, The Joan of Arts Fete and the St. Joan of Arc Parade) and to hear about our upcoming events and collaborations. New friendships were made today with the Consulate General of France, Metropolitan Center for Women and Children, the Krewe du Faye Fairies, the Vieux Carre Commission, and more. Thanks to all who came out to support us, take photos, and keep the spirit of Joan alive. This was a great kickoff to a wonderful year ahead!
Please visit our website and check out the community page, calendar, and contacts page...where you can reach out and join us!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Media Party at Bienville House Hotel


FOR A MIDDAY MEDIA PARTY Friday, May 8th 12 noon to 1:00 p.m.

at the Bienville House Hotel 320 Decatur Street (garden court)
Contact: Amy A. Kirk-Duvoisin to RSVP or for additional information
(504) 251-5046 or

Who: The Joan of Arc Project, which consists of the Krewe de Jeanne d' Arc; the St. Joan of Arc Parade; and the Joan of Arts Fete invites you to this celebration of Joan's victory at Orleans, France in 1429! We're using this opportunity to announce our "battle plans" for 2009 and 2010 as a newly formed krewe and expanded organization.

What: We will have food, drink, French gypsy jazz music, krewe members in costumes, and previews of our signature parade throws to give to guests (limited number).

When: May 8th is the anniversary of Joan's lifting of the siege of Orleans, France. This victory is ultimately what saved France from the English in the Hundred Years' War and renewed confidence in France's military power. It was Joan's first military victory...and she was only 17 years old!

Why: The Joan of Arc Project grew out of the first annual St. Joan of Arc Parade, held January 6, 2009. The Project includes a new membership-based krewe; a one-day Joan of Arts Fete, to be held January 3, 2010; and a new, expanded parade route. We also have several community partnerships and special events we'd like to tell you about that will keep Joan of Arc in the public's mind throughout the year, and give everyone an opportunity to learn more about and celebrate Joan and her significance to New Orleans.

Mission: The mission of the St. Joan of Arc Project is to celebrate the relationship of Joan of Arc to New Orleans, and highlight the relationship and lineage of New Orleans to France. We are a secular organization whose primary focus is to produce an annual parade and an annual fete honoring Joan of Arc; educate all ages about her story; inspire the public to visit her statue in the French Quarter and understand its significance to our city; represent the medieval times in which she lived; present an artistic interpretation of her pursuits, successes, and failures;celebrate French holidays and significant dates with the public as an opportunity to honor New Orleans’ French heritage; and to evoke pride in our city’s uniqueness by utilizing Joan as a symbol of individual strength, determination, and loyalty.

Because Joan of Arc’s birthday is the same day we celebrate Twelfth Night in New Orleans (January 6th), the connection between her life and our city is multilayered. Our signature production is a parade in the French Quarter, selected as our inaugural and our primary activity because it is the most visible, theatrical, and accessible way to engage the general public about Joan of Arc. It is also a nod to the parade held each year in our French sister city of Orleans, France, where a young girl leads a parade on May 8th each year in honor of Joan’s lifting of the siege of Orleans.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Joan Lifts the Siege of Orleans: May 8, 2009

During the Hundred Years' War, the 17-year-old French peasant Joan of Arc leads a French force in relieving the city of Orleans, besieged by the English since October.

At the age of 16, "voices" of Christian saints told Joan to aid Charles, the French dauphin, in gaining the French throne and expelling the English from France. Convinced of the validity of her divine mission, Charles furnished Joan with a small force of troops.
She led her troops to Orleans, and on April 29, as a French sortie distracted the English troops on the west side of the city, Joan entered unopposed by its eastern gate. Bringing needed supplies and troops into the besieged city, she also inspired the French to a passionate resistance and through the next week led the charge during a number of skirmishes and battles. On one occasion, she was even hit by an arrow, but after dressing her wounds she returned to the battle. On May 8, the siege of Orleans was broken, and the English retreated.

During the next five weeks, Joan led French forces into a number of stunning victories over the English, and Reims, the traditional city of coronation, was captured in July. Later that month, Charles VII was crowned king of France, with Joan of Arc kneeling at his feet.
In Orleans, France, they celebrate Joan's victory every year on May 8th:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Leonard Cohen sings Joan of Arc

When I first heard this song I didn't like it because I thought that Cohen was claiming that Joan literally wants to wear a wedding dress..then I realized he's saying she's married to her destiny...(I think!)

It's just another great example of how many different people interpret Joan, are inspired by her, and are visited by her as Muse. This is why we'll be exploring Joan of Arc in various art forms at our Joan of Arts Fete, to be held January 3, 2010, at The Bienville House Hotel in the French Quarter. Join us as an artist or audience member!

There will be panels and workshops on everything from Joan as Muse to a songwriting contest about Joan of Arc...

Now the flames they followed Joan of Arc
as she came riding through the dark;
no moon to keep her armour bright,
no man to get her through this very smoky night.
She said, "I'm tired of the war,I want the kind of work I had before,
a wedding dress or something white to wear upon my swollen appetite.
"Well, I'm glad to hear you talk this way,you know I've watched you riding every day
and something in me yearns to win such a cold and lonesome heroine."
"And who are you?" she sternly spoketo the one beneath the smoke.
"Why, I'm fire," he replied,"And I love your solitude, I love your pride.
"Then fire, make your body cold,I'm going to give you mine to hold,"
saying this she climbed insideto be his one, to be his only bride.
And deep into his fiery heart he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and high above the wedding guests he hung the ashes of her wedding dress.
It was deep into his fiery heart he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and then she clearly understood if he was fire, oh then she must be wood.
I saw her wince, I saw her cry, I saw the glory in her eye.
Myself I long for love and light, but must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?

--Lyrics by Leonard Cohen

see him sing it on YouTube at

What is The Joan of Arc Project?

The Joan of Arc Project is a secular organization whose primary focus is to produce an annual parade and annual fete honoring Joan of Arc, educating all ages about her story, and inspiring the public to visit her statue in the French Quarter and understand its significance to our city. As we produce the parade and fete we hope to achieve our additional goals of: presenting and encouraging artistic interpretations of Joan's pursuits, successes, and failures; celebrating French holidays and significant dates with the public as an opportunity to honor New Orleans' French heritage; and evoking pride in our city's uniqueness by utilizing Joan as a symbol of individual strength and loyalty.
We will be opening the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc to new members in June 2009, after our first official Joan of Arc Project board meeting on June 5th. Email me if you would like to join:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Announcing: The Joan of Arc Project!

Since our inaugural January 6, 2009, St. Joan of Arc Parade, we have been meeting and strategizing about our second annual procession and related events. We have named ourselves The Joan of Arc Project to encompass several activities and levels of participation for those interested in honoring Joan of Arc. Stay tuned for more announcements!

The Joan of Arc Project includes:

Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc
The Joan of Arts Fete--January 3, 2010
The St. Joan of Arc Parade--January 6, 2010

On Friday, May 8th (the date Joan lifted the siege of Orleans, France) we are holding a press conference at The Bienville House Hotel to announce our new parade route; our student contest to choose the a young Joan to lead the parade; details of the Joan of Arts Fete; events throughout the year that the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc will be participating in; Krewe membership information; and more!

Contact Amy at if you would like an invitation to this press conference which is open to media and special guests who have an interest in supporting The Joan of Arc Project.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Happy 100th Anniversary of Beatification, Joan!

While our krewe is a secular one, we have to acknowledge that Joan was finally given her rightful due by the Catholic Church today, 100 years ago. Congrats, Joan!
(For those of you who don't know, this means she was one step closer to canonization, and was now honored with the title of "Blessed"...not quite "Saint"...almost!)

New Orleans, home of the Joan of Arc statue on Decatur street, and home of the St. Joan of Arc Parade, is celebrating in it own unique way, at the French Quarter Festival, happening as I write this! The sounds of jazz, Cajun music, classical music, blues, and funk are surrounding Joan, giving her a New Orleans' style party!
Not quite the same kind of acknowledgement offered by Notre Dame in 1909, but...a joyous occasion, nonetheless!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

French Quarter Festival Poster Features Joan!

(poster created by Soren Vandegaard for French Quarter Festivals, Inc.)
Visit for more info and to purchase!

People have been mentioning this poster to me for weeks, and my friend Marci, director of the French Quarter Festival, just sent me a copy! As I told her, it so brilliantly represents how Joan is both past and future...

I'm also utilizing this perfect visual union of Joan with the French Quarter Festival to encourage the Fest to extend their Christmas New Orleans Style to Twelfth Night, so their events might include the Joan of Arc Parade as well as our soon-to-be-unveiled Joan of Arts Fete, a two day festival of Joan activities leading up to the parade (details to be posted soon!)

As I said to Marci, after all, Christmas doesn't end until Twelfth Night!

In the meantime, be sure to enjoy the French Quarter Festival. It's free, the weather's always ideal, and you can visit Joan while down in the Quarter listening to jazz, blues, classical music, Zydeco, Cajun, and more! It's a wonderful way to reconnect with the French Quarter...just like the Joan of Arc Parade.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The appeal of a girl in armor

While putting on lipstick in front of my bedroom mirror the other day, I caught a glimpse of a postcard I’d stuck there months ago: a picture of a knight’s armor from an exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art. I’d grown up visiting these bodiless knights in the huge, high-ceilinged exhibit hall at the museum. It was a favorite place for my father, brother, and me, and it became a ritual destination for me nearly every time I went home; I was thrilled when after a several year renovation project, the museum opened again this past summer, and I could introduce my husband to these knights of my childhood.

Whenever I went to similar art exhibits, Renaissance Fairs, gift shops, or any place that specialized in soldiers, be it hobby stores or cigar shops, I always eyed the knights and considered buying one for my Dad as an homage to our shared time with the steadfast knights in Cleveland. Over the years he’s amassed a small collection of knights due to this shared fascination of ours.

So the knight postcard, sent to me by my parents this past summer after their visit to the Armor Court at CMA, was a continuation of this shared interest, and nothing unusual. But on this particular day I happened to notice that this postcard was next to a postcard of Joan of Arc, this one more recently tucked into the mirror's shoulder. Accident? I certainly don't remember placing them there together on purpose. But there they were, among other prayer cards, postcards, birthday cards, poems and Chinese fortunes, my two knights: an anonymous German knight, and a painting of Joan in her armor, with white butterflies surrounding her. I had not intentionally placed these two images next to each other, but there they were, brother and sister, staring back at me.

It hit me like a steel helmet: of course I would feel an affinity with Joan and her armor! I grew up admiring these knights, so why wouldn’t I, in my early adulthood, equally or even more enthusiastically, admire a girl in armor?

(Indeed, I’m always amazed that I didn’t know of Joan earlier. Many women and men that I talk with about Joan of Arc knew of her as children; they costumed as her, wrote book reports about her, prayed to her then. Not me. I attended public school and went to catechism classes one night a week; although we did study the saints, somehow Joan escaped me. I chose Rose as my confirmation name simply because I thought the name was beautiful. I can’t tell you a thing about Saint Rose herself. I was wholly without holiness in my youth, and was religious only in the sense of feeling deep guilt and fear—of God, of sin, of disappointing my parents. I prayed, I confessed, I was confirmed, and I attended mass faithfully each week until I was 18. Then I went to college, and literature, theater, and art became my religion).

Joan’s armor is impossible to ignore as the key to her appeal. I know it’s obvious, but it is always reconfirmed as her primary identity when I talk with people about her, whether they know her from popular culture or from their religious education. Few can get past her armor, literally. In one way, it’s not fair to her, because she is much more than a soldier. On the other hand, it’s precisely why we remember her and stand in awe. A teenage girl, in the Middle Ages, secures her own armor, horse, banners, and army? How is that possible? We are captured by the enormity of her military and gender-bending accomplishments before we even understand or acknowledge her religiosity.

And that’s where I feel it is unfair to her, that we think of her as Joan the Soldier rather than or before we think of Joan the Saint. Because she believed she was following her God, and He was telling her to crown the King. If you would ask her what she was most proud of, she’d say attending the coronation of the Dauphin.

Her task was done. She had listened, and she had done God’s will.

But most of us don’t think about this or marvel at this aspect as readily. It’s more appealing, somehow, to consider the concrete: she wore armor, she carried a sword, she rode a horse, she won battles.

Despite how unbelievable it is, this we can believe.

It’s beyond the scope of our imaginations, however, to imagine or believe that a person could hear the voices of Saints (in her case, Saint Catherine, Saint Margaret, and Saint Michael) and believe in them, follow them, to her death.

This scares us. And because we are all afraid of our own death, because we are, most of us, afraid of what we cannot see, afraid of the mystical and all things owing to faith rather than fact, we’d much rather think of armor. What appealed to me about the knights as a child—strength, protection, fearlessness, boldness—still appeals to me about Joan. She’s immortal in her armor. Her statues say more about her as a warrior than they do as a Saint.

I do have a copy of a painting of her that my mother bought me at the Metropolitan Museum of Art gift shop. It’s Joan standing beneath a tree in her peasant dress, looking up; faintly you see the shapes of floating deities—her Saints—in the branches. She looks mystical. Although it’s a beautiful painting, it’s haunting, too. I don’t know if I find as much—comfort? Strength? Inspiration?—from that painting as I do images of her with her sword in hand. It’s more intimidating or unsettling to me to see a young woman convening with angels than to see her ready to fight.
That’s too bad, but that’s the truth.

Which is why, when I saw this editorial in response to the Joan of Arc article in the Times-Picayune, published a few days after Molly Reid's article about the parade, I could not disagree with this writer’s sentiments. We perhaps embrace Joan’s defiance more than her faith because it’s more familiar to us. Here’s what she said:

Defiant? It depends

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Re: "Strange bedphellows," Lagniappe, Jan. 2.

I read with great interest Molly Reid's article about the new Krewe of St. Joan of Arc -- a terrific idea -- but before the Maid of Orleans is entirely recast as a post-modern figure, a few words of clarification are in order.

First, St. Joan's story is not "legend," but well-documented history. The full transcript of her trial and testimony exists.

Second, St. Joan was not "burned . . . as a witch," but as a heretic by an English-dominated kangaroo court whose politically motivated verdict was reversed shortly after her death.

And finally, to say that St. Joan "represents defiance" is to stand on its head her loyalty and obedience to God and her king.

Mary Ramirez
New Orleans

I think there will always be fans of Joan who take her as symbol for what they want to be. As a girl, I wanted armor, I suppose, and as a woman, I want it, albeit more symbolically these days (although, let's face it, walking the streets of New Orleans in armor might be wise!). I also, however, want faith, so I do find myself more and more drawn to Joan’s faith as much as to her teenage confidence and fortitude.

However, to deny that she was defiant—to her own father, to the British, to nearly any authority other than her God and her King—is to deny an important part of Joan.

I think the image that says Joan of Arc best to me is the one that sits next to the knight’s armor postcard. It’s Joan with her armor and wooden cross that she held at her execution, with white butterflies swirling around her. She’s a girl, she’s a saint, she’s a soldier, she’s a martyr. She is all these things. And we should not forget any of them when we think of her.