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Wednesday, 16 April 2014
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St Joan of Arc

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St. Joan of Arc, 1412-1431, is the patroness of soldiers and of France. On January 6, 1412, Joan of Arc was born to pious parents of the French peasant class, at the obscure village of Domremy, near the province of Lorraine. At a very early age, she heard voices: those of St.Michael, St. Margaretand St.Catherine.

In May, 1428, her voices told Joan to go to the King of France to help him to reconquer his kingdom. For at that time the English king sought the throne of France, and the Duke of Burgundy, the chief rival of the French king, was siding with England and seizing more and more French territory.

After overcoming opposition from churchmen and courtiers, the seventeen year old Joan was given a small army with which she raised the siege of Orleans on May 8, 1429. She then enjoyed a series of spectacular military successes, during which the King was able to enter Rheims and be crowned, with Joan at his side.

In May 1430, as she was attempting to relieve Compiègne, she was captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English, when Charles and the French did nothing to save her. After months of imprisonment, she was tried at Rouen by a tribunal presided over by the infamous Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, who hoped that the English would help him become archbishop.

Through her unfamiliarity with the technicalities of theology, Joan was trapped into making a few damaging statements. When she refused to retract the assertion that it was the saints of God who had commanded her to do what she had done, she was condemned to death as a heretic, sorceress, and adulteress, and burned at the stake on May 30th 1431. She was nineteen years old. Some thirty years later she was exonerated of all guilt; she was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV, making official what the people had known for centuries. Her feast day is May 30th.

Above right, in 1895 Thérèse plays Joan of Arc in a play she had composed about her heroine.

 

General Audience in Rome

Joan of Arc Website