Thérèse and Joan of Arc(Obviously, the idea came from the mini-series Joan of Arc)
Even before Thérèse's attraction to Joan of Arc as a virgin martyr, her attention focused on the virgin martyr Cecilia. In 1895, looking back to her trip to Rome in 1887, Thérèse wrote that she and Céline:
had to carry off some souvenir from the Catacombs; having allowed the procession to pass on a little, Céline and Thérèse slipped down together to the bottom of the ancient tomb of St. Cecilia and took some earth which was sanctified by her presence. Before my trip to Rome I didn't have any special devotion to this saint, but when I visited her house transformed into a church, the sight of her martyrdom, when learning that she was proclaimed patroness of music [ . . . ] in memory of the virginal song she sang to her heavenly Spouse hidden in the depths of her heasrt, I felt more than a devotion for her; it was the real tenderness of a friend. (Story of a Soul (cited after this point as SS), Manuscript A, p. 182)In a letter to Céline in October 1893, Thérèse writes of Cecilia's virginal devotion Christ, but then says of Cecilia and her future husband Valerian:
Cecilia guessed that her divine Spouse thirsted for souls and she already coveted that of the young Roman who dreamed only of the earth, soon she will male a martyr of him and multitudes will follow in their footsteps . . . .Thérèse admiration of Cecilia as a martyr is echoed in Manuscript B of her autobiography, where she wrote:
(Correspondance Génèrale II, LT 149, p. 732; English texts to come)
Martyrdom was the dream of my youth, and this dream has grown with me within Carmel's cloisters. [ . . . ] I would undergo all the tortures inflicted upon the martyrs. With St. Agnes and St. Cecelia, I would present my neck to the sword, and like Joan of Arc, my dear sister, I would whisper at the stake Your name, O JESUS.Thérèse wrote two poems and two plays about Joan of Arc, a considerable body of work!
(SS, Manuscript B, p. 193)
Thérèse's own desires for martyrdom seemed to stem in part from a nineteenth-century fascination with martyrs, but also from her own ideas that martyrdom personified intense devotion to God.
To be continued....