May 29, 2017

Saint Joan of Arc, "The Maid of Orléans"

The Maid of Orléans

Both the world and the Church have changed so much in the past 600 hundred years that many parts of the story of Joan of Arc sound very foreign to us today. Yet, despite the obvious differences in culture, two things regarding this saint remain constant. The first is her willingness to respond to God, and the second is her commitment to persevere in that response no matter how high the cost.

Joan was the youngest of five children, born into a comfortable peasant family in the region of Domremy-Greux, France, in 1412. Until the age of 13, there was nothing that set her apart from her peers, nor hinted at the life she would be called to lead. However, it was at this time that Joan began to experience visions and hear the voices of angels and saints, in particular Saint Michael, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, and Saint Margaret. Though at first personal and general, their messages became specific and unexpected: Joan was to drive the English from France, and see to it that the French Dauphin was crowned king.

At 16, acting on her visions, Joan sought first to meet with the heir to the French throne, Charles VII. After repeated attempts to gain access to him, she finally convinced him of her authenticity by first identifying him in a room of courtiers, though he was in disguise, and then revealing to him a secret known to him only.

Assured by his theologians that Joan’s visions were not demonic, the Dauphin helped equip her with white armor and an ancient sword. A banner, bearing the names of Jesus and Mary, was made, at her request, for her to carry into battle.

Before engaging the enemy, Joan demanded that English troops withdraw from French soil. The response was what one would expect; they were enraged at the audacity of this young girl’s command. French troops, led by Joan, entered the besieged city of Orleans and, by the beginning of May, 1429, had freed it from English control. This allowed the Dauphin to be crowned king at Reims in 1429.

Joan continued to fight to drive the English from France, even though the king she had helped reinstate did little to help her. Joan’s military campaigning came to an end in 1430, when she was captured near the city of Compiegne and sold to the English. Stunned by the defeat at the hands of the French, a defeat they felt Joan was responsible for, the English placed her on trial for heresy and witchcraft. This ordeal dragged on for months, with Joan questioned over and over by both civil and clerical leaders. In the end, she was found guilty of heresy because she wore men’s clothing. She was burned at the stake on May 30, 1431.

In 1456, the evidence given at her trial was re-examined by Pope Callistus III. it was determined that the verdict reached 25 years earlier resulted from political pressure, and that Joan had been falsely condemned. She was officially declared innocent on July 7 of that same year. Devotion to her grew during the nineteenth century, and the “Maid of Orleans” was beatified in 1909. A particular inspiration for French soldiers during World War I, Saint Joan was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV and named a patron of France after Saint Martin of Tours. Saint Joan of Arc’s feast day is May 30th. Saint Joan of Arc, pray for us, the Church Militant!


iiferedon said...

thanks helps heaps!

iiferedon said...

thanks help heaps!!!