May 29, 2015

French Friday: St. Joan of Arc


[Joan of Arc statue Place des Pyramides, Paris - photo taken in 2013]

May 29, 2015 {149/365} Sainte Jeanne d'Arc

Tomorrow is the feast of St. Joan of Arc, "The Maid of Orléans" (La Pucelle d'Orléans). At the age of thirteen, Joan professed visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine. Her apparitions directed her to help liberate France from English domination near the end of the Hundred Years' War and to establish Charles VII, the uncrowned heir (le dauphin), to the French throne. Joan was sent to Orléans where, after only nine days, the seige was lifted, leading Charles VII's coronation at Reims in 1429 and ultimately, the French victory in 1453.

On May 23, 1430, nineteen-year-old Joan was captured at Compiègne by a pro-English Burgundian faction. She was handed over to the English, charged with a variety of crimes including heresy and sorcery, declared guilty, and burned at the stake on May 30, 1431.

Twenty-five years after her execution, an inquisitorial court, authorized by Pope Callixtus III, examined the trial, dismissed the charges, pronounced Joan innocent, and declared her a martyr. Joan of Arc was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920, becoming one of the nine patron saints of France. In 2012 on the 600th anniversary of her birth, The History Channel published this fascinating article: 7 Things you Didn't Know about Joan of Arc. 

As a Catholic woman, a francophile, and a Marquette University alumna, St. Joan of Arc is a hero of mine. As an undergraduate, I attended countless Masses in the beautiful, little French chapel that bears her name and years later, this place of reflection and solace remains an inspiration to me.