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The Tragic Tale of Claire Ferchaud and the Great War$
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Raymond Jonas

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520242975

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520242975.001.0001

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The Sacred Heart and the Union Sacrée: Claire’s Story Goes Public

The Sacred Heart and the Union Sacrée: Claire’s Story Goes Public

(p.84) The Sacred Heart and the Union Sacrée: Claire’s Story Goes Public
The Tragic Tale of Claire Ferchaud and the Great War

Raymond Jonas

University of California Press

This chapter focuses on the Sacred Union or the Union Sacreé. It was believed that Raymond Poincaré remained emphatic in his position on the calls for France's consecration. If Claire Ferchaud left his office feeling that somehow she had touched him, Poincaré concealed the fact. The truth was he merely humored Claire. By humoring Claire, he held together a fragile alliance called “the Sacred Union”. Poincaré coined the term Sacred Union as an expression of the idea that to rally to the “sacred” cause of victory against Germany was a sacred duty. He introduced the Sacred Union as the cornerstone concept of his first speech of the war. Sacred Union was meant as a gesture of patriotic reconciliation across the political spectrum. It invited the Catholics as well as the French Left who were alienated from the government. However, the Sacred Union had limits; it did not include any prominent Catholic politicians. In addition, there was some dissension from the Catholic grassroots. While the government remained stoic amidst the intensifying call for spirituality, Claire and many Catholics remained firm in their campaign, giving soldiers departing for war emblems and insignias adorned with the Sacred Heart. For many, the Sacred Heart emblem was a piece of thousands of quiet acts of desperation and heroic acts of faith. For soldiers, the emblem gave meaning to their lives and those of their comrades in their final moments. The Sacred Heart pointed toward national redemption and on the home front, the Sacred Heart went to war for the soul of France.

Keywords:   Sacred Union, Union Sacreé, Raymond Poincaré, patriotic reconciliation, Sacred Heart, national redemption, spirituality

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