The Church of St Joan of Arc, Rouen
In the quiet contemplative atmosphere of her church on the Market Square, this sculpture of Saint Joan of Arc shines forth as from her heaven, a radiant, transfigured presence: her expression is one of gentle kindness.
Joan represents in this context a welcome, an invitation to be with her in her happiness as a woman - she is a woman with a face expressing both innocence and fulfilment, for she has "entered into the joy of her Lord", in their union of fire.
Joan is thus the angel bearing good news, bringing us, against a backdrop of misfortune and war, the surprising "message of peace" from the Gospel - she whose courage and combats were prompted by her burning desire to bring her people the happiness they had been promised.
This Joan is the living testimony to a second meaning that her ultimate ordeal takes on, where it is no longer a question of flames at the stake but rather the flames of love which seem to consume her, and where she both draws us in with her whilst extending her arms in welcome.
For Joan, in the heart of the church, is no longer alone in her ordeal; she shares her flame, she stands to one side to evoke the flames within us all and thus spread their "burning bush"; whilst the reddish golden glow of her bronze reflects the risen Christ in the stained glass windows opposite her.
(translation : Delia Morris)