Friday, May 30, 2014

Joan of Arc 1412-1431

 Today is Joan of Arc day, my patron saint, the patron saint of France, and of Soldiers. Like every saint, she went against the  grain, and like many saints, she did things that were  contrary to the customs of her times. She was a French peasant girl with a devout christian parents, (especially her mother) who started hearing voices at a very young age, which she said were the voices of St Michael, St Catherine, and St Margaret.

When I was thirteen years old, I had a Voice from God to help me govern my conduct. And the first time I was very fearful. And came this Voice, about the hour of noon, in the summer-time, in my father's garden; I had not fasted on the eve preceding that day.

Two or three times a week this Voice exhorted me to go to France. My father knew nothing of my going. The Voice kept urging me; I could no longer endure it. It told me I would raise the siege of Orleans. It told me to go to Robert de Baudricourt, captain, and he would give me men to come with me.

She actually did this.  When she reached Robert de Baudricourt, she said:
I have come to you on the part of my Lord, in order that you may send word to the Dauphin, to hold fast, and to not cease war against his enemies. Before mid-Lent the Lord will give him help. In truth, the kingdom belongs not to the Dauphin, but to my Lord. But my Lord wills that the Dauphin be made King, and have the kingdom in command. Notwithstanding his enemies, the Dauphin will be made King, and it is I who will conduct him to the coronation.

Since God commanded it, had I had a hundred fathers and a hundred mothers, had I been a King's daughter, I should have departed.

She saved France from the  British (which enabled the Catholic Church to survive in Europe) and caused a King to be crowned. She is the youngest person in history of either sex to have led a nation's entire army at the age of seventeen. She has been held up for admiration by people like George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill; Mark Twain wrote a book about her. (This puzzles a lot of people, because he considered himself an atheist--but if you know Mark Twain, and have ever read Huckleberry Finn, you would understand. He had an eye for the kind of courage and nobility that stand as a contradiction to the spirit of an age, and he had a special sympathy for young people who embodied it.)

     Her only oaths were "By my staff!" and "Good God!". But  she was forthright in her speech. When asked by some (most probably) patronizing adult what dialect her voices spoke, she replied tartly,"Better than you!"

    The British caught her, and she was captured and tried for heresy and accused of witchcraft (her voices). Her  Dauphin, whom she had made king, betrayed her by not paying her ransom. She never even made a murmur against him.  For fear of the fire, she initially abjured her voices, but
Through His Saints, God informed me of His great sorrow for the treason that I had committed by signing the abjuration. To save my life I betrayed Him and in so doing I damned myself!

In the margin of his paper the court notary wrote: "Responsio Mortifera" which means, "fatal answer.")
She was sentenced to be burnt at the stake. Her last words:

My Voices did come from God and everything that I have done was by God's order.

Hold the crucifix up before my eyes so I may see it until I die.

Jesu, Jesu, Jesu

     There is much, much more about her, said by others, and said by her. She shows us how God  reveals a truth to us that is our truth, given to us alone, in private, disbelieved by others.  Her courage, even more than her bravery on the battlefield, lay  in sticking to her story--in the face of a painful death, abandoned by her King. She did not succumb to that insidious self-doubt which even fellow-Christians can inspire.
I am a good Christian, properly baptized and I will die.., a good Christian.
After she was executed, one of her persecutors turned away and said, "God have mercy on us, we have burned a saint."

Wikipedia article
Quotes in French with English translations (you get a real taste of her personality if you can read them in french)

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