Chapter

The Unmaking of a Saint

Raymond Jonas

in The Tragic Tale of Claire Ferchaud and the Great War

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780520242975
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520938281 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520242975.003.0011
The Unmaking of a Saint

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This chapter discusses Father Servant's impressions of the war and his narratives of Claire. After the war, Servant wrote As the Ink Flows: My Impressions During the War of 1914 (Mes impressions au courant de la plume pendant la guerre de 1914). His writings provide a glimpse of wartime France and the mentality of a rural priest. Servant understood from the outset that he, like France, was caught up in an event that would change his world forever. The war had shaken up the stagnant and immobile communities of rural France. The war had also led to the infusion of new blood that would fortify the French race. It was argued that the intermarriage of French and Americans would reinvigorate French blood. In addition to providing insights into the hopes, fears, and prejudices of an early twentieth-century Frenchman, the writings of Servant also allowed the tracking of Claire's career. His writings became a useful index of when and how Claire's notoriety imposed itself on Servant, commanding his attention and finding its way into his commentary and his understanding of war. His memoir also served as a guide when Claire first appeared on the public radar, when she reached her apogee, and when she fell out of sight. In addition, his memoir showed his unbelief in Claire. Apart from discussing Servant's memoir, the chapter also discusses the debate over Claire's validity as a visionary. To some of the members of the clergy and the laity, Claire was not a credible visionary. In many papers that came after the war, they raised doubts about the Sacred Heart flag and Claire and her visionary enhancements of the Sacred Heart saga. Eventually, the Vatican rejected Claire's message and career. On January 29, 1972, Claire died, reduced from the celebrity status she once had.

Keywords: Father Servant; intermarriage; wartime France; career; visionary; Sacred Heart flag

Chapter.  8771 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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