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This is the moving and improbable story of Claire Ferchaud, a young French shepherdess who had visions of Jesus and gained national fame at the height of World War I as a modern-day Joan of Arc. From her modest origins to her spectacular ascent, Claire's life and times are deftly related with literary verve and insight in a book that gives a rare view of the French countryside during the Great War. Claire experienced her first vision of Jesus after a childhood trauma in which her mother locked her in a closet to break her stubborn willfulness. She developed her visionary gifts with the aid of her spiritual directors and, by age twenty, she had come to believe that Jesus wanted France consecrated to the Passion, symbolized by adding the image of the Sacred Heart to the French flag. Claire believed that if the country undertook this devotion, it would enjoy rapid victory in the war. The tale of Claire Ferchaud's life - what happened to her during and after the war - illuminates broad issues of gender and ambition, belief and betrayal, and mysticism and hysteria.
Raymond Jonas, Professor of History at the University of Washington, is the author of France and the Cult of the Sacred Heart: An Epic Tale for Modern Times (California, 2000), Industry and Politics in Rural France: Peasants of the Isere, 1870-1914 (1994), and Le Sacre-Coeur; histoire d'une devotion du XVIe au XXe siecle (2004).