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George Bernanos: Dialogues des Carmélites

During the stay from 28 December to 6 January at the Dominican nuns' convent in Ganghereto (AR), a seminar was held on the Dialogues des Carmélites by the French writer Georges Bernanos.

What Balthasar called 'his last and purest work' began as a screenplay for a film; assessed as unsuitable for a film adaptation, published posthumously in 1949 and soon afterwards adapted for the stage, it constituted one of the greatest theatrical successes of the time. The true story on which Bernanos' work is based is that of the sixteen nuns of the Carmel of Compiègne, arrested, tried and guillotined on 17 July 1794 in Paris for their loyalty to the Church and the consecrated life.

Le Dialogue des carmélites (Film 1960; directed by Philippe Agostini and Raymond Leopold Bruckberger)

The reading and the subsequent sharing, during which the scenes into which the text is divided were taken up, commenting on them together, involved the participants and led them to focus above all on the theme of martyrdom, through the main figures portrayed by the French author. Prominent among them is Sister Blanche of the Agony of Jesus who, despite having a fearful nature, thanks to the vicarious substitution of some of her sisters, is in the end made capable of facing death without anguish. Also important is the sub-prioress Sister Maria of the Incarnation who, in the absence of the prioress, forced the entire community to take a vow of martyrdom, and who instead lives another form of martyrdom: accepting to be humiliated in her pride and renouncing, alone among all, the desired martyrdom of blood.


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