Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Holiness of St. Joan

St. Joan was burned at the stake in Rouen in 1431. She was not canonized until 1920. Why did it take over 400 years to canonize such a marvelous saint? Joan of Arc scholar Allen Williamson answers this question in a fine article. Mr. Williamson points out that, although not formally canonized for several hundred years, Joan was regarded almost universally as being a saint soon after her death. Other holy persons, including St. Thomas More, St. Agnes of Prague, St. Nicholas Owen, St. Agnes of Montepulciano, St. Norbert, St. Agnes of Assisi, St. John Southworth, St. Hermann Joseph, St. Thomas Garnet were all canonized centuries after their deaths. The Church does not rush, even if the world does.

At Joan's posthumous Trial of Nullification of 1456, in which the verdict which condemned her was overturned by the Holy See, many of those who had known Joan were able to testify about her personal holiness.

The Duke d'Alencon stated:

So far as I could judge, I always held her for an excellent Catholic, and a modest woman. She communicated often, and, at sight of the Body of Christ, shed many tears. In all she did, except in affairs of war, she was a very simple young girl; but for warlike things bearing the lance, assembling an army, ordering military operations, directing artillery-she was most skillful. Every one wondered that she could act with as much wisdom and foresight as a captain who had fought for twenty or thirty years. It was above all in making use of artillery that she was so wonderful.

Her page Louis de Contes testified:

She was a good and modest woman, living as a Catholic, very pious, and, when she could, never failing to be present at the Mass. To hear blasphemies upon the Name of Our Lord vexed her. Many times when the Duke d'Alencon swore (Jeanne's hatred of swearing is noticed by many of her followers, and in her hearing they endeavored to abstain from it. La Hire, whose language was apparently the most violent, was permitted by her to employ the mild expletive 'Par mon martin,' 'By my baton,' an expression she herself is constantly reported to have used.) or blasphemed before her, I heard her reprove him. As a rule, no one in the army dared swear or blaspheme before her, for fear of being reprimanded.

She would have no women in her army. One day, near Chateau-Thierry, seeing the mistress of one of her followers riding on horseback, she pursued her with her sword, without striking her at all; but with gentleness and charity she told her she must no longer be found amongst the soldiers, otherwise she would suffer for it.

Joan's confessor Father Jean Pasquerel asserted the following:

I acted as her Chaplain, confessed her, and sang Mass for her. She was, indeed, very pious towards God and the Blessed Mary, confessing nearly every day and communicating frequently. When she was in a neighborhood where there was a Convent of Mendicant Friars, she told me to remind her of the day when the children of the poor received the Eucharist, so that she might receive it with them; and this she did often: when she confessed herself she wept.

Here is another outstanding article discussing the sanctity of the Maid.

Novena Prayer in honor of St. Joan



Avid said...

Thanks for this-- devotion to St. Joan is increased!

Anonymous said...


your pieces on Joan reminded me that I wrote a very short bio on her life a year ago sometime.

I hope you dont mind that I put a link to your own pieces on Joan..a most courageous soul.

Yours in Christ,


Terry Nelson said...

Thank you for posting all of this information on St. Joan, it is edifying.

elena maria vidal said...

Thanks to you all.