As the new French President, Emmanuel Macron seems determined to hitch opposites together, combine like with dislike, compatibles with incompatibles, and otherwise fudge his policies as he did during the electoral campaign.  As a candidate for the office, he praised Angela Merkel’s decision to accept a million “refugees” from the Middle East and elsewhere—but has since made no promise to do likewise himself.  At the end of July he urged “the greatest humanity” toward immigrants and refugees, and moved to expedite (by half) France’s consideration of asylum-seekers.  Twenty-four hours later his minister of the interior refused to allow the creation of a welcome center for migrants in Calais and promised to send riot police to control the camps populated by immigrants hoping to make their way illegally to Great Britain.  However M. le Président decides to resolve this issue (assuming he ever does), a single small but poetically and culturally significant victory has recently been won by the residents of Domrémy-la-Pucelle, a town of 126 inhabitants in the Vosges.

Domrémy-la-Pucelle is the birthplace of Ste. Jeanne d’Arc, born in 1412 during the Hundred Years’ War between France and England, whose visions inspired her to fight the English in France during the war’s Lancastrian period, lift the siege of Orléans, and smooth the way for the coronation of Charles VII.  Later, she was captured by the pro-English Burgundians and burned at the stake in 1431.  For six centuries Jeanne has been the great heroine of France whom even Marianne, the country’s republican symbol, has failed to supplant.  Nevertheless, at the end of July Macron’s government decided that 54 unaccompanied minors belonging to the current influx of Third World invasion should be billeted in a new migrant center next door to Jeanne d’Arc’s former home, scheduled to open in August as part of a dispersion program from the capital city, which is already crowded with migrants.  The government acted under cover of darkness and without consulting the villagers in order to forestall the expectable protests.  Once the news was out, however, the residents of Domrémy-la-Pucelle, alarmed at the prospect of the town’s becoming a “mini-Calais,” demanded a hurried meeting of the municipal council where they condemned the mayor for his undemocratic and high-handed behavior, while the local chapter of the Front National hastened to point out that Macron was combining financial aid to 125,000 new immigrants with cuts to a national housing program.  In the face of the inconvenient representations made to it by the townspeople, the Élysée Palace backed down, and the 54 young migrants will not be coming to Domrémy after all, but rather—one suspects—dumped into some other hapless French community unprotected by any famous saint.

At least one journalist covering the story thought to quote Sainte Jeanne’s famous answer to Pierre Cauchon, the pro-English bishop of Beauvais, during the inquiry to establish her “heresy” when he asked her, “Jeanne, does God not also love the English?”

“Yes, God loves them . . . but in their own land!” the young lady replied.