30 May – St. Joan of Arc and a marvelous BOOK!

You want some “lío”?  I’ve got your “lío” right here.  Today we celebrate the feast of the original ¡Hagan lío! gal.

Today, in the 2005 Martyrologium Romanum we find interesting saints, including St. Petronilla and St. Ferdinand III, King of Castille.  We also find Otto Neururer, a priest who died in Buchenwald (more HERE), and Luke Kirby, a priest who died on the Tyburn Tree along with William Filby, Lawrence Johnson and Thomas Cottam during the reign of Elizabeth I.  There are also William Scott, Richard Newport in the reign of James I.   Matthis Kalemba was killed by Muslims in Uganda.  In ancient times St. Gabinus died a martyr in Sardinia.  St. Dymphna died in Brabant.

So much death.  So much glory.

But one of the most interesting, to me at least, is that of St. Joan of Arc.

Her entry.  Perhaps some of you readers would like to try your hand…

Rothomagi in Normannia Galliae, sanctae Ioanne d’Arc, virginis, puellae Aurelianensis nuncupatae, quae, cum fortiter pro patria dimicasset, tandem in hostium potestatem tradita iniquo iudicio condemnata est et igne cremata.

I have long thought that St. Joan of Arc is a fine saint to inspire young people, including boys, because of her martial spirit.

A friend of mine in the Swiss Guard has Joan etched on his breastplate… and some of you, dear readers, made that happen!  We had a campaign here to raise money for his armor.  Here’s a shot from last 6 May 2016 during the swearing in of the new Guards.  And there’s Joan!


On the other side is St. Joseph.  Very cool.

Pope Benedict spoke of St. Joan in a General Audience in 2011. Here is the VIS account of the audience.  My emphases and comments.


St. Joan of ArcVATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2011 (VIS) – During this morning’s general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 3,000 people, Holy Father dedicated his catechesis to St. Joan of Arc (1412-1431), whom he described as “one of the ‘strong women’ who, at the end of the Middle Ages, fearlessly brought the splendid light of the Gospel into the complex events of history”. [I wonder if many Catholics today haven’t been cowed by the relentless secularism and relativism and even open anti-Catholic bigotry we find in the public square.  We need a revitalization of our Catholic identity.]

The life of Joan of Arc, who was born into a prosperous peasant family, took place in the context of the conflict between France and England known as the Hundred Years War. At the age of thirteen, “through the ‘voice’ of St. Michael the Archangel, Joan felt herself called by the Lord to intensify her Christian life and to act personally to free her people”.

She made a vow of virginity and redoubled her prayers, participating in sacramental life with renewed energy. “This young French peasant girl’s compassion and commitment in the face of her people’s suffering were made even more intense through her mystical relationship with God. One of the most original aspects of her sanctity was this bond between mystical experience and political mission”. said Benedict XVI.

Joan’s activities began in early 1429 when, overcoming all obstacles, she managed to meet with the French Dauphin, the future King Charles VII. He had her examined by theologians of the University of Poitiers who “delivered a positive judgment, they discovered nothing bad in her, and found her to be a good Christian”.

On 22 March of that year Joan dictated a letter to the King of England and his men, who were laying siege to the city of Orleans. “Hers was a proposal of authentic and just peace between two Christian peoples, in the light of the names of Jesus and Mary”, said the Holy Father. But the offer was rejected and Joan had to fight for the liberation of the city. Another culminating moment of her endeavours came on 17 July 1429 when King Charles was crowned in Reims.

Joan’s passion began on 23 May 1430 when she fell into the hands of her enemies at Compiegne and was taken to the city of Rouen. There a long and dramatic trial was held which concluded with her being condemned to death on 30 May 1431.

The trial was presided by two ecclesiastical judges, Bishop Pierre Cauchon [Somehow appropriate.] and the inquisitor Jean le Maistre, but in fact it was conducted by a group of theologians from the University of Paris. These “French ecclesiastics, having made political choices opposed to those of Joan, were predisposed to hold negative views of her person and mission. The trial was a dark page in the history of sanctity, but also a shining page in the mystery of the Church which is, … ‘at the same time holy and always in need of being purified’“.

“Unlike the saintly theologians who illuminated the University of Paris, such as St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas and Blessed Duns Scotus, … the judges were theologians who lacked the charity and humility to see the work of God in this young girl. Jesus’ words come to mind, according to which the mysteries of God are revealed to those who have the hearts of children, but hidden from the wise and intelligent. Thus Joan’s judges were radically incapable of understanding her, of seeing the beauty of her soul“, the Pope said.

Joan died at the stake on 30 May 1431, holding a crucifix in her hands and invoking the name of Jesus. Twenty-five years later a trial of nullification, instituted by Pope Callixtus III, “concluded with a solemn sentence nullifying the condemnation and … highlighting Joan of Arc’s innocence and perfect faithfulness to the Church. Much later, in 1920, she was canonised by Pope Benedict XV“.

The Name of Jesus invoked by this saint in the last instants of her earthly life was as the continual breath of her soul, … the centre of her entire life”, the Holy Father explained. “This saint understood that Love embraces all things of God and man, of heaven and earth, of the Church and the world. … Liberating her people was an act of human justice, which Joan performed in charity, for love of Jesus, hers is a beautiful example of sanctity for lay people involved in political life, especially in the most difficult situations”.  [In his first Message for the World Day for Peace, Pope Benedict spoke of the need of military intervention at times in order to establish the foundation upon which peace can be fostered.]

“Joan saw in Jesus all the reality of the Church, the ‘Church triumphant’ in heaven and the ‘Church militant’ on earth. In her own words, ‘Our Lord and the Church are one’. This affirmation … takes on a truly heroic aspect in the context of the trial, in the face of her judges, men of the Church who persecuted and condemned her”.

“With her shining witness St. Joan of Arc invites us to the highest degree of Christian life, making prayer the motif of our days, having complete trust in achieving the will of God whatever it may be, living in charity without favouritisms or limitations, and finding in the Love of Jesus, as she did, a profound love for His Church”.

Furthermore, if you have never read Mark Twain’s superb novel about St. Joan do try to get it soon? Twain, not exactly friendly toward the Church, thought it was his finest work.  This would be terrific summer reading also for young people who can read a little above their age.


It is on Kindle, too, for $0.99!  

Also, some years ago, I spent an evening watching some of a Joan of Arc movie marathon. I wrote about it here.

St. Joan, pray for us!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. yatzer says:

    I’ve read Mark Twain’s book, and it is great and helps to show why St. Joan was such a mighty and holy woman. I still am not clear, though, on how she is a Saint. Many people have been courageous and fought mightily on behalf of their oppressed country. Maybe it is lingering Protestant mindset or just not seeing what is obvious to others; I still don’t get it.

  2. tho says:

    It took about 500 years for the church to declare her a saint, and that might be, for her overwhelming desire to see the dauphin crowned, as king of France. Plus, her distaste for the English was evident, but she encouraged everyone to go to confession and repent. In spite of the many atrocities, the entire western world was One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, and she wanted it to remain that way. Her suffering martyrdom for her beliefs and actions, along with the perfidious behavior of the Bishops who prosecuted her, was truly saintly. During her year in prison, she was spitefully denied the Mass, Communion and confession, by the Bishops.
    After reading any one of her biographies we cannot help but conclude that she truly deserved sainthood.

  3. sallyr says:

    In response to Yatzer’s question, the following article might be of help. One suggestion is that by keeping France out of England’s control the Lord was preparing a refuge for England’s Catholics who fled Henry VIII’s persecutions a hundred years after Joan’s crusade. Whether that’s true or not, it’s a good reminder that our own perspective can often be too narrow to see the Lord’s designs.


  4. Charlotte Allen says:


    At Rouen in Normandy, France: [The feast] of Saint Joan of Arc, called the Maid of Orleans, who, after she had striven bravely for her fatherland, was in the end handed over to the power of the enemy, condemned by an unjust court, and burned by fire.

    Or, as Francois Villon wrote thirty years after Joan’s death and five years after the “trial of nullification” that rehabilitated her:

    Et Jehanne, la bonne Lorraine,
    Qu’Anglais brulerent a Rouen,
    Ou sont-elles, Vierge souv’raine,
    Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan?

  5. Suburbanbanshee says:

    St Jeanne De Arc lived a life of heroic virtue, Christian leadership, and conspicuous virginity, doing her duty as a prophet and mystic, bearing ignominy patiently as a falsely accused Catholic, teaching the faith accurately to professors, and dying a martyr’s death.

    Seriously, what more can you ask?

  6. Semper Gumby says:

    Great post and thanks for Benedict XVI’s General Audience on St. Joan of Arc.

    Fr. Z wrote: [In his first Message for the World Day for Peace, Pope Benedict spoke of the need of military intervention at times in order to establish the foundation upon which peace can be fostered.] Thanks, I’ll have to look that up sometime.

    St. Joan of Arc leading a Crusade to the Holy Land would have been excellent. No doubt Joshua would have been impressed at the resulting mayhem.

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