Monday, May 30, 2011

Jehanne la Pucelle

"O how beautiful is the chaste generation with glory: for the memory thereof is immortal...." Wisdom 4:1

On Wednesday, May 30, 1431, the Vigil of Corpus Christi, Jehanne Darc, or Jehanne la Pucelle, "the Maid," as she called herself, was led into the public square of Rouen by enemy soldiers to where the stake awaited her.  It was noon. Nineteen years old, her head shaven, surrounded by placards branding her a witch, idolatress, and abjured heretic, she invoked the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, and St Michael the Archangel. She had been calumniated and condemned by those whose holy office it was to guide and protect her soul; she had been exposed to lewdness and impurity by those whose sacred duty it was to shelter her innocence and virginity. She was abandoned by the king whose crown her victories had won. She was in great interior darkness; the voices of her saints were silent.

Although she conversed with angels and saints, Joan the Maid was known to be practical and blunt. Very feminine, she missed her embroidery and her mother, yet she emerges on the pages of late medieval history like someone from the Acts of the Apostles. Surrounded by miracles, she was herself a Miracle; she led an army to victory at the age of 17, an illiterate peasant girl, who knew nothing of war or politics. She saved France as a nation, for it had all but ceased to exist when she came on the scene.

Such was her Faith that she confounded her judges, while exhausted, frightened and pushed to the breaking point of her mental and physical strength. Denied the Sacraments by her persecutors, she gazed upon the upheld crucifix, calling out, "Jesus! Jesus!" as the flames consumed her. When Joan's ashes were scattered in the river, her heart was found, untouched by the flames, and still bleeding.

"If I walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me, O Lord Jesus." Communion Antiphon for the Feast of St Joan

St. Joan, pray for us!

Catherine Delors explores the art and literature which honors La Pucelle. To quote Madame Delors:
But Jehanne is not content to win battles. She knows that military success is meaningless if it is not consolidated by the symbolic and religious power of the French monarchy. She convinces the Dauphin to have himself crowned King. Here she is, attending the coronation ceremony of Charles VII at Reims, still holding the banner she carried into battle. This moment is her work, and marks the peak of her glory in this world.


Anonymous said...


St Joan's story reminds us that restoration of a good name from disgrace and ruin brought about by calumny and detraction is hard work -- and often impossible, which is why we should always take care to be on guard against participating in any such evil. Fr Lawrence Lovasick his book, _The Hidden Power of Kindness_ (p. 147) speaks about this and the hard work that Joan's mother, Isabel d'Arc went to, to bring a righteous ending to Joan's story (five centuries it took to come to its final completion).

"Isabel, d"Arc ... pleaded before popes and kings to vindicate her daughter."

Isabel toiled for 20 years to bring about about the rehabilitation trial of Joan, a trial that lasted 6 months, and ended in complete vindication of Joan.

Father Lovasick goes on to say, "Sins of detraction and calumny may have brought about the unjust execution of Joan [but] her mother took it upon herself to repair the harm done to Joan's good name. By the trial of vindication in 1456, and the canonization of St Joan in 1920, the Church herself has repaired the harm that had been done to Joan of Arc."

Dear St Joan of Arc, and good Isabel d'Arc, pray for all those who suffer character assassination, slander, detraction and calumny.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, soften the cold hearts who practice the evil of gossip, slander, calumny and detraction; teach them love and kindness instead. Have mercy on us and hear our prayers, dear Lord. O Sacred Heart of Jesus, be praised for ever and ever. Amen.

love and prayers,

elena maria vidal said...

Excellent. Thank you, Georgette, for sharing the quotes from Fr. Lovasik. Some people, such as Marie-Antoinette, are never vindicated from slander, which pursues them even in death.

Catherine Delors said...

Beautiful post, Elena!
I linked to it for my own tribute to Jeanne d'Arc.

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you, Catherine!

poetbdk said...

Wonderful post celebrating St. Joan's Feast Day!