Dates: 7 January 1873 – 5 September 1914
Title of Poem: The Passion of Our Lady
For the past three days she had been wandering, and following.
She followed the people.
She followed the events.
She seemed to be following a funeral.
But it was a living man’s funeral.—
She followed like a follower.
Like a servant.
Like a weeper at a Roman funeral.—
As if it had been her only occupation.
That is what he had done to his mother.
Since the day when he had begun his mission.—
You saw her everywhere.
With the people and a little apart from the people.
Under the porticoes, under the arcades, in drafty places.
In the temples, in the palaces.
In the streets.
In the yards and in the back-yards.
And she had also gone up to Calvary.
She too had climbed up Calvary.
A very steep hill.
And she did not even feel that she was walking.
She did not even feel that her feet were carrying her.—
She too had gone up her Calvary.
She too had gone up and up
In the general confusion, lagging a little behind …
She wept and wept under a big linen veil.
A big blue veil…
A little faded.—
She wept as it will never be granted to a woman to weep.
As it will never be asked
Of a woman to weep on this earth.
Never at any time.—
What was very strange was that everyone respected her.
People greatly respect the parents of the condemned.
They even said: Poor woman.
And at the same time they struck at her son.
Because man is like that.—
The world is like that.
Men are what they are and you never can change them.
She did not know that, on the contrary, he had come to change man.
That he had come to change the world.
She followed and wept.
Everybody respected her.
Everybody pitied her.
They said: Poor woman.
Because they weren’t perhaps really bad.
They weren’t bad at heart.
They fulfilled the Scriptures.—
They honored, respected and admired her grief.
They didn’t make her go away, they pushed her back only a little with special attentions
Because she was the mother of the condemned.
They thought: It’s the family of the condemned.
They even said so in a low voice.
They said it among themselves
With a secret admiration.—
She followed and wept, and didn’t understand very well.
But she understood quite well that the government was against her boy.
And that is a very bad business.—
She understood that all the governments were together against her boy.
The government of the Jews and the government of the Romans.
The government of judges and the government of priests.
The government of soldiers and the government of parsons.
He could never get out of it.
What was strange was that all derision was heaped on him.
Not on her at all.—
There was only respect for her.
For her grief.—
They didn’t insult her.
On the contrary.
People even refrained from looking at her too much.
All the more to respect her.
So she too had gone up.
Gone up with everybody else.
Up to the very top of the hill.
Without even being aware of it.
Her legs had carried her and she did not even know it.
She too had made the Way of the Cross.
The fourteen stations of the Way of the Cross.
Were there fourteen stations?
Were there really fourteen stations?—
She didn’t know for sure.
She couldn’t remember.
Yet she had not missed one.
She was sure of that.
But you can always make a mistake.
In moments like that your head swims.
Everybody was against him.
Everybody wanted him to die.
It is strange.
People who are not usually together.
The government and the people.
That was awful luck.
When you have someone for you and someone against you, sometimes you can get out of it.
You can scramble out of it.
But he wouldn’t.
Certainly he wouldn’t.
When you have everyone against you.
But what had he done to everyone?
I’ll tell you.
He had saved the world.
Brief Biography: Péguy was a socialist and is said to have inspired Vichy’s National Revolution ideology. Nationalism and socialism were strong influences on Péguy’s work as was his devoted Roman Catholic faith. He was the editor and main contributor to Les Cahiers de la Quinzaine, a literary magazine with socialist leanings. He died in battle during WW1in Villeroy, Seine-et-Marne