30 May – St. Joan of Arc, Virgin: Martyrology, Movies, and Marvelous reading

Today we celebrate the feast of the quintessential “¡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 $0.00!   With Prime.

If you are not a Prime member, HERE  [Also… Try Prime Discounted Monthly Offering

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. HvonBlumenthal says:

    St Joan’s cause was launched in 1869. Among its most energetic promoters was Bp. Dupanloup of Orleans. He had severe doubts about the infallibility doctrine because he feared it would be misused or misunderstood.

    During the Franco Prussian War he turned his palace into a hospital for the wounded where as many Prussians (including a member of my family who died there) were treated as French.

    A good man.

  2. khouri says:

    Bp. Dupanloup was right.

  3. HvonBlumenthal says:

    I should have added that he embraced the infallibility doctrine and the Marian dogmata wholeheartedly once the fait was aaccompli.

  4. 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.

    “In Rouen in Normandy, France: The feast of St. Joan of Arc, virgin, called the Maid of Orleans, who, after she had fought bravely for her country, was finally, having been delivered into the hands of her enemies, condemned in an unfair trial and burned by fire.”

    This entry created some translation hurdles:

    Surely “Ioanne” is a misprint for “Ionnae,” the genitive of “Ioanna,” her name in Latin? That’s the only way to make it match “sanctae” and “nuncupatae.”

    And I was tempted to move “Rothomagi in Normannia Galliae” to the end of the sentence because she was burned at Rouen, but that didn’t seem to fit the style of the entry. This suggests that the feast day of Joan of Arc is or once was a strictly local feast day.

    I translated “potestatem” as the English idiom “hands.”

  5. Oops–my own typo: “Ioannae” is the genitive of “Ioanna.”

  6. tho says:

    One of my memories, when reading her biographies, was the down to earth reply to King Charles, when he asked her what he could do for her. As I remember, she wanted to return to Domremy to help her mother with the household chores. Such a reply really touched me. I hope that I remembered that correctly.

  7. Semper Gumby says:

    Excellent post on St. Joan of Arc.

    “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.”


  8. Semper Gumby says:

    From the 2005 book “The War to Oust Saddam Hussein: Just War and the New Face of Conflict” by James Turner Johnson:

    “We turn first to the Gregory [Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the USCCB in 2002] letter, which began by referencing the American bishops’ trademark idea, that of a moral presumption against the use of armed force, an idea that is unique to them and never appeared in Catholic doctrine on war- or the broader just war tradition- prior to the American bishops’ pastoral letter ‘The Challenge of Peace’ in 1983.

    “So, when Bishop Gregory applied the just war criteria he listed to the case of a possible use of force against the Saddam Hussein regime, he approached the question not by asking whether there is an evil that just use of force may possibly right but by postulating that the use of force is itself an evil that must be avoided if possible. That skews the moral argument and moves it decisively away from the approach taken in the just war tradition proper.”

  9. Semper Gumby says:

    From Benedict XVI’s 2006 message for the World Day of Peace:

    “Looked at closely, nihilism and the fundamentalism of which we are speaking share an erroneous relationship to truth: the nihilist denies the very existence of truth, while the fundamentalist claims to be able to impose it by force.”

    From the 2006 “Iraqi Perspectives Project: A View of Operation Iraqi Freedom from Saddam’s Senior Leadership”, by U.S. Joint Forces Command [interviews with captured senior leadership and captured documents]:

    “In the 1991 Gulf War, the Americans had appeared on the brink of destroying much of Iraq’s [i.e. the Saddam Hussein regime’s] military, including the “Republican Guard,” but then inexplicably stopped- for fear of casualties, in Saddam’s view.”

    “In his recorded conversations with senior staff, he constantly reminded them of the source of his confidence. Had he not by force of his own extraordinary will led Iraq to its great victory in the Iran-Iraq War? Was he not responsible for designing the successful invasion of Kuwait? Had he not stood up to the Americans [i.e. the Coalition forces in 1991] and won the “Mother of All Battles?”

    “Even Operation Desert Storm (1991) failed to impress Saddam. [He believed] that America had spent an inordinately long time bombarding Iraq from one end of the country to the other before they were finally willing to commit ground forces. Once American ground troops were committed, American irresolution allowed the bulk of the elite Republican Guard forces to escape; left the oil exporting city of Basra unoccupied; and, most critically, failed to do anything that threatened the regime’s survival.”

  10. Semper Gumby says:

    Benedict XVI:

    “International humanitarian law ought to be considered as one of the finest and most effective expressions of the intrinsic demands of the truth of peace. Precisely for this reason, respect for that law must be considered binding on all peoples.”

    In 1996 the UN Security Council (the 1990-91 Gulf War ended with a cease-fire) and Saddam Hussein negotiated the Oil for Food Program.

    “The Regime quickly came to see that OFF could be corrupted to acquire foreign exchange both to further undermine sanctions and to provide the means to enhance dual-use infrastructure and potential WMD-related development.

    “By 2000-2001, Saddam had managed to mitigate many of the effects of sanctions and undermine their international support. Iraq was within striking distance of a de facto end to the sanctions regime, both in terms of oil exports and the trade embargo, by the end of 1999.”

    – Iraq Survey Group, Duelfer Report 2004, Vol. 1, “Regime Intent”: Key Findings

    “Over time, sanctions had steadily weakened to the point where Iraq, in 2000-2001, was confidently designing missiles around components that could only be obtained outside sanctions. Moreover, illicit revenues grew to quite substantial levels during the same period, and it is instructive to see how and where the Regime allocated these funds.”

    – Charles Duelfer, Testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Oct. 6, 2004.

  11. Semper Gumby says:

    Benedict XVI:

    “Whenever countless people are forced to endure intolerable injustices and inequalities, how can we hope that the good of peace will be realized? The essential elements which make up the truth of that good are missing. Saint Augustine described peace as “tranquillitas ordinis,” the tranquility of order. By this, he meant a situation which ultimately enables the truth about man to be fully respected and realized.”

    From a 2002 White House Background Paper ‘A Decade of Deception and Defiance’:

    UNSCR [United Nations Security Council Resolution] 688 (April 5, 1991) “condemns” Saddam Hussein’s repression of the Iraqi civilian population — “the consequences of which threaten international peace and security.” UNSCR 688 also requires Saddam Hussein to end his repression of the Iraqi people and to allow immediate access to international humanitarian organizations to help those in need of assistance. Saddam Hussein has repeatedly violated these provisions and has: expanded his violence against women and children; continued his horrific torture and execution of innocent Iraqis; he has withheld food from families that fail to offer their children to his regime.

    Saddam Hussein has repeatedly refused visits by human rights monitors and the establishment of independent human rights organizations. From 1992 until 2002, Saddam prevented the UN Special Rapporteur from visiting Iraq.

    Iraqi security agents reportedly decapitated numerous women and men in front of their family members. According to Amnesty International, the victims’ heads were displayed in front of their homes for several days.

    In August 2001 Amnesty International released a report entitled Iraq — Systematic Torture of Political Prisoners, which detailed the systematic and routine use of torture against suspected political opponents and, occasionally, other prisoners. Amnesty International also reports “Detainees have also been threatened with bringing in a female relative, especially the wife or the mother, and raping her in front of the detainee. Some of these threats have been carried out.”

    Saddam Hussein has held 3-week training courses in weapons use, hand-to-hand fighting, rappelling from helicopters, and infantry tactics for children between 10 and 15 years of age. Camps for these “Saddam Cubs” operated throughout the country. Senior military officers who supervised the courses noted that the children held up under the “physical and psychological strain” of training that lasted for as long as 14 hours each day. Sources in the opposition report that the army found it difficult to recruit enough children to fill all of the vacancies in the program. Families reportedly were threatened with the loss of their food ration cards if they refused to enroll their children in the course.

    Forces from the Mukhabarat, General Security (Amn Al-Amm), the Military Bureau, Saddam’s Commandos (Fedayeen Saddam), and the Ba’th Party have killed senior Shi’a clerics, desecrated Shi’a mosques and holy sites, and interfered with Shi’a religious education. [Note: The 2006 bombing of a Shi’a Shrine in Samarra raised sectarian violence between Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites to a new level.]

    According to a report received by the UN Special Rapporteur in 1998, hundreds of Kurds and other detainees have been held without charge for close to two decades in extremely harsh conditions, and many of them have been used as subjects in Iraq’s illegal experimental chemical and biological weapons programs.

    Saddam Hussein has failed to return, or account for, a large number of Kuwaiti citizens and citizens of other countries who were detained during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait and continues to refuse to cooperate with the Tripartite Commission to resolve the cases.

    In January 2002, President Bush reported to Congress that “as most recently stated in a November 19 UN report, the government of Iraq is not committed to using funds available through the Oil for Food program to improve the health and welfare of the Iraqi people … Iraq’s contracting delays, cuts in food, medicine, educational and other humanitarian sector allocations, government attempts to impede or shut down humanitarian NGO operations in northern Iraq, and Baghdad’s delays in the issuance of visas for UN personnel demonstrate that the Iraqi regime is trying to undermine the effectiveness of the program.”

  12. Semper Gumby says:

    A brief timeline:

    1991: The First Gulf War ends with a cease-fire.

    UN Resolution 687 ordered Saddam to compensate Kuwait, end support for terrorism, destroy all WMD programs, and destroy missiles with a range of over 150 km.

    US Marines re-enter Iraq to provide some measure of security for Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq. The U.S., British and French Air Forces enforce No-Fly Zones in northern and southern Iraq. UNSCOM begins its mission of verifying Saddam’s compliance with dismantling WMD and missile programs.

    1993: Saddam’s Mukhabarat attempts to assassinate Pres. H.W. Bush

    1994: Saddam deploys military forces on the Kuwait border. The U.S. and U.K. deploy ground troops to Kuwait for two months, Pres. Clinton visits Coalition troops in Kuwait.

    1996: Oil for Food program begins.

    1998: After harassing and deceiving UNSCOM inspectors for years, Saddam suspends inspections in August. In October the U.S. Congress passes the Iraq Liberation Act, which is signed by Pres. Clinton. In December the U.S and U.K. launch Operation Desert Fox: four days of air- and missile-strikes against the Saddam regime, including WMD targets.

    1999: UNMOVIC is created in an effort to restart inspections. The Saddam regime refuses cooperation. Saddam continues to harbor numerous terrorists and terror groups. Coalition aircraft enforcing the No-Fly Zones are fired upon for the next three years on an almost daily basis.

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