Saint Joan of Arc


Virgin, Martyr
(1412-1431)

Who today does not know the history of the Maid of Orleans, who saved France from the foreign domination of the English, only to be betrayed by the legitimate prince whom her efforts had crowned at Rheims, then burnt at the stake on May 30, 1431? Both in the French and English languages, many books and articles have honored her since her canonization in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

The Holy Father spoke before the bishop of Orleans and others present for the reading of the decree which approved her two final great miracles, needed to proceed with the canonization. He said, We find the memory of Joan of Arc so apt to enkindle love in the French people for their mother country, that we regret being French only in our heart! Many others could say the same, and confirm the exactitude of the proverb: Every Christian has two mother countries — the one where he or she first saw the light of day, and France!

Two years later, Pope Pius XI declared Saint Joan patroness of France with the Most Blessed Virgin, placing her second only to the Mother of God. In that year Monsignor Baudrillart, French historian, wrote that Saint Joan of Arc may be proposed as an example to all young children by her perfect piety; as a model of fidelity to the call of heaven, to all young persons. For artisans, scholars, writers, teachers, she gives excellent example by her respect for truth and her remarkable prudence. Those dedicated to the works of mercy should find inspiration in her charity, visible when she consoled and wept for her wounded and dying enemies. All agricultural workers can invoke her with confidence, for when Joan, with the archbishop of Rheims, rode through the rich fields in the month of August and saw the reapers at work, she expressed a wish, despite the honors she then enjoyed, to die in the midst of the country-folk of France whom she loved. Her illness in prison, her martyrdom in the flames, recommend her intercession to the sick, as also to all who pray for loved ones in purgatory.

Finally, Monsignor Baudrillart concluded, we pray our new Patroness to intercede unceasingly with God and the Most Blessed Virgin that France, its thoughts turned towards the true liberty of God's children and its own ancient dignity, may truly be today as before, the firstborn daughter of the Church. For centuries that title — conferred because of the early conversion of King Clovis and three thousand of his noble soldiers, baptized on Christmas day of 496 — was the glory of Christian France. It was later magnificently renewed and embellished by the heroic virgin, Joan of Arc.

Almanach Catholique français pour 1923 (Librairie Bloud et Gay: Paris, 1923).

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