Joan Of Arc

January 7, 2012 by staff 

Joan Of ArcJoan Of Arc, France marked the 600th anniversary of the birth of its favourite saint, medieval martyr Joan of Arc, as politicians fought each other to take up her battle standard.

With just four months to go before what promises to be a tight election, President Nicolas Sarkozy tried to use the celebrations to seize the patriotic heroine’s memory back from the far right.

But Sarkozy’s rival Marine Le Pen, standard bearer of her father Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front, is determined to retain its association with a figure it celebrates every year with a Mayday parade.

‘She surely does not belong to parties who never speak of her or only speak of her during election campaigns,’ Jean-Marie declared on Saturday in a speech to a crowd of around 150 supporters gathered under a Joan of Arc statue in Paris.

Turning to the themes that have seen his daughter rise to third place in pre-election opinion polls, he claimed the Maid of Orleans would not have supported the European Union, globalism or mass immigration.

The day before, Joan’s presumed birthday, Sarkozy had taken his undeclared re-election campaign to her birthplace in Domremy-la-Pucelle, and made his own attempt to recruit her to his flagging forces mounting their defence of the Elysee.

‘Joan doesn’t belong to any party, any faction, any clan,’ he said, paying tribute to the teenage girl who experienced religious visions and went on to fight the English before being burned at the stake for heresy by the Church.

‘May we continue to think of her as the symbol of our unity and not leave her in the hands of those who would use her to divide. To divide in the name of Joan of Arc is to betray Joan of Arc’s memory,’ he said.

And he denied the charge from his left as well as the far right of hijacking a national celebration for electoral gain.

‘It’s the 600th anniversary, it doesn’t happen every day. What would they have said if I hadn’t come?’ he said.

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