Saint Joan of Arc’s Story
Burned at the stake as a heretic after a politically-motivated trial, Joan
was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920.
Born of a fairly well-to-do peasant couple in Domremy-Greux southeast of
Paris, Joan was only 12 when she experienced a vision and heard voices that
she later identified as Saints Michael the Archangel, Catherine of
Alexandria, and Margaret of Antioch.
During the Hundred Years War, Joan led French troops against the English
and recaptured the cities of Orléans and Troyes. This enabled Charles VII
to be crowned as king in Reims in 1429. Captured near Compiegne the
following year, Joan was sold to the English and placed on trial for heresy
and witchcraft. Professors at the University of Paris supported Bishop
Pierre Cauchon of Beauvis, the judge at her trial; Cardinal Henry Beaufort
of Winchester, England, participated in the questioning of Joan in prison.
In the end, she was condemned for wearing men’s clothes. The English
resented France’s military success–to which Joan contributed.
On this day in 1431, Joan was burned at the stake in Rouen, and her ashes
were scattered in the Seine River. A second Church trial 25 years later
nullified the earlier verdict, which was reached under political pressure.
Remembered by most people for her military exploits, Joan had a great love
for the sacraments, which strengthened her compassion toward the poor.
Popular devotion to her increased greatly in 19th-century France and later
among French soldiers during World War I. Theologian George Tavard writes
that her life “offers a perfect example of the conjunction of contemplation
and action” because her spiritual insight is that there should be a “unity
of heaven and earth.”
Joan of Arc has been the subject of many books, plays, operas and movies.
“Joan of Arc is like a shooting star across the landscape of French and
English history, amid the stories of the Church’s saints and into our
consciousness. Women identify with her; men admire her courage. She
challenges us in fundamental ways. Despite the fact that more than 500
years have passed since she lived, her issues of mysticism, calling,
identity, trust and betrayal, conflict and focus are our issues still.” (*Joan
of Arc: God’s Warrior*, by Barbara Beckwith)
Saint Joan of Arc is the Patron Saint of:
*By Courtesy: *Franciscan Media