Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 32

CATHERINE OF LA ROCHELLE

But the most singular event of this period was the Appearance at court of another holy woman, declaring herself, like Joan of Arc, to be inspired. Her name was Catherine, and she came from La Rochelle with a mission, she said, not of war but of wealth. For her object was, by preaching to the people, to persuade them to offer their money to the King, and she alleged that she was able to distinguish those who kept their treasures concealed. She too, like the Maid of Orleans, had her visions ; often seeing in them, as she stated, a white lady clothed all in gold--the dress being certainly no unfit emblem of the mission 1 To a King with craving courtiers and an empty exchequer, such a mission could not be^ otherwise than welcome. But we may remark that Joan from the first entertained a strong distrust--a professional jealousy it might perhaps be called--of her sister-prophetess. She asked to be shown the white lady. Catherine replied that her visions came only in the hours of darkness, and that Joan might be a witness to them by remaining with her at that time. All night, accordingly, the Maid of Orleans watched by her side, in fruitless expectation of the promised sight ; but having fallen asleep towards morning, Catherine declared that the white lady had appeared in that very interval. Determined not to be baffled in this manner, Joan lay down to sleep the whole of the next day, that she might be^sure to be wakeful at night ; and wakeful she was accordingly, always urging Catherine with the question--"Is she coming soon?" and always answered--" Soon, soon." But nothing appeared.

The argument diawn from these facts did not appear altogether conclusive, even in that superstitious age, since Joan was not able, any more than Catherine, to display her visions to others. Several persons stated this objection to Joan herself; but she readily replied that they were not sufficiently righteous and holy to see what she had seen. Never- theless, to end this controversy, she declared that she had consulted her Saints, Catherine and Margaret, who had told her that there was nothing but folly and falsehood in the woman of La Bochelle. She therefore strongly counselled the King to send the pretended prophetess home "to keep her house- hold and to nurse her children." It does not appear how far either the King or the lady followed this good advice. The further fortunes of Catherine are nowhere to be found recorded.*

* The story of Catherine is cirsumstantially told by De Barante, vol. vi. pp. 69-71.

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