Angels in the life of Saint Joan of Arc
St. Joan of Arc (1412 - 1431)
Joan of Arc is a strong contradiction in our Church and our world. She was abandoned by the country she had fought so hard to protect; she was condemned by a corrupt bishop of the Church to which she pledged undying loyalty. After her death, that same country made her into a heroine; that same Church made her into a Saint. She is now, with St. Thérèse of Lisieux, co-patroness of France. She was the Little Flower's heroine during Thérèse's lifetime. Little did Thérèse realize they would someday share the same title as Patron Saint of France. And although Joan lived some 460 years before St. Thérèse, she was only canonized five years before the Little Flower.
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Joan of Arc was illiterate. She could not read nor write. Yet her story is so fascinating that great authors of the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries, George Bernard Shaw, and Mark Twain, have both written about her. She was not stupid by any means, only unschooled.
There is such an amazing scope to this teenage saint, we cannot get into it in this book, because this is a book on Angels in the lives of the Saints. Our next book will be Saints and Other Powerful Women in the Church, Part II, and we will write about Joan of Arc at length, in that book, if the Lord wills it. But for now, let's talk about Joan of Arc and the Angels.
Joan was a peasant girl, daughter of a farmer. Her village of Domremy was sort of a border town. At any given time, it could be part of France, Burgundy, or the Holy Roman Empire, based on who was in charge. Burgundy had sworn allegiance to England, which made things all the worse. Her country was at war with England, the Hundred Year's War, and had been since long before she was born.
While Joan was used to the idea of war, having lived with it all her life, she and her family had to hide out many times when invading soldiers came to their little village from wherever, to loot and pillage. These soldiers were not really troops for the most part. They were bandits who justified their way of life by posing as soldiers. They roamed in packs, and took advantage of any weakness they could find. (Their modern equivalent would be terrorists, cowards who terrorize the unarmed civilian population.) While these Fifteenth century terrorists had no courage, they had weapons, so Joan and her family found themselves running for refuge from the attacks.
Considering the conditions of her country, Joan lived a relatively normal life She was an exceptionally loving, religious, trusting girl. That may have been her great mistake, trusting people. But she trusted mostly in the Lord. He was in charge of her life. She spent a lot of time at Church, receiving the Sacraments whenever she could. While she was very holy, she was also the life of the party. She loved to take part in village activities. But her strongest pull was towards God and things of Heaven. She was told many stories of the Saints by her dear mother. Remember, she never learned to read or write. It wasn't really necessary for a girl of her station. She had a special secret place all her own, out in the woods, a little chapel where a statue of our Lady and the Baby Jesus presided. She spent a lot of time in that chapel, praying for her family and her country. Joan was a very patriotic girl. She loved her country and her king, even though she was not sure who he was.
Her years of joy were shortlived. At age twelve, her famous voices began coming to her. They were always accompanied by a brilliant flash of light, and came at the precise time the sexton rang the church bells. At first, there was only one voice. When this voice spoke to her, the third time, she knew it was St. Michael the Archangel. This was affirmed to her on that third visit by an apparition, she recognized as St. Michael in the company of other Angels. At first, the voice just gave her instructions on how to live a good Christian life. Basically, the Angel told her to be good, go to Church often, and obey her parents. These were good instructions, but to be honest, she was already practicing these virtues.
At a given point, St. Michael advised her she would be visited by St. Margaret of Antioch, and St. Catherine of Alexandria. He told her she had to listen to their instructions, and follow them to the letter. She agreed to do this. When they came, they were beautiful. They wore crowns on their heads. We get the impression that all she could see of them were from their heads down to their waist. Joan grew very comfortable with her Heavenly Visitors, especially St. Michael, to whom she and much of the world of the Middle Ages had a great devotion.
But a time was to come when the messages took on a different tone. She was shocked when she was told, "Daughter of God, you must leave your village and go to France." She replied "But I'm only a young girl, and I cannot ride or fight." She was told she was to save France from the English. This was all beyond her. Think about it, though. This girl was a teenager. Granted, she was much more spiritual than most adults of her time. But she was being told things that most adults would have a major problem accepting. Given the same set of circumstances, I don't know anyone who wouldn't be completely bowled over by the proposition set before this young girl.
She knew they were sincere. She trusted, especially in St. Michael. She knew he would not allow the evil one to deceive her. But she was very confused. As the years progressed, the messages became more specific. She would save France from defeat at the hands of the British. This continued until she was sixteen years old. Her voices would give her no peace. Then, one day in May, she was given a direct command. She was told by St. Michael to go to a Robert de Baudricourt, in a neighboring town, and tell him to provide her with troops, to escort her to the Dauphin. His first reaction upon seeing this young peasant girl, wearing her worn red dress, and claiming she would save France and have the Dauphin crowned king, was to give her a swift boot. Instead, he ordered her uncle (who had brought her), to take her home. She returned to Domremy, completely crushed.
Her Angelic voices would not leave her alone! She pleaded and tried to explain how she had only been able to accomplish humiliation at the hands of Robert De Baudricourt; but St. Michael would have none of it. Finally, he said to her, "It is God who commands it!" Fortified by the courage and determination of the Angel, she set out, at the beginning of the following year, to see Robert de Baudricourt, once again. However, by this time the situation of the French was so disastrous, he was not anxious to dismiss her. He was ready to grab onto any hope. Finally, he gave in, and assigned three men to bring her to the king.
Everything she did for the next fifteen months was orchestrated by the voice of St. Michael. She could do no wrong. She was given a white suit of armor. The banner she carried into combat was that of Jesus and Mary. Every battle she fought, the French won by a wide margin. The English were pushed back.
The English offered a ransom for the capture of Joan of Arc, dead or alive. But no one could get close to her. She was able to overcome the politics of the French court, to have the Dauphin crowned King of France.
But then it was over for Joan. Her mission was completed, as far as the instructions of the Angel were concerned. What then, prompted her to continue going into battle, when she had not been instructed to do so? Whatever the reason, all her future battles were disasters for the French and for Joan. She was even allowed to be captured by her enemies, the Burgundians. They put her up for ransom. Her French king, the Dauphin she had placed on the throne, abandoned her. She was not worth putting up a franc. But, the English, who hated her, put up a sum equivalent to about $50,000, so that they could humiliate and execute her. They were able to get a corrupt French bishop, who had ambitions, to set up a mock trial, at which Joan was condemned as a heretic, and ultimately burned at the stake.
We have an important question to reflect on here. Why did Joan continue doing battle? As far as her voices were concerned, she should not have. Had she lost her focus? Was she now battling for God, or for herself? Was there a certain amount of self-gratification from winning all those battles? She had become the heroine of France at nineteen years old. She was a very dramatic figure. Was her head turned even a little by the adulation she was receiving? Was she looking for man's approval? Better yet, was she looking for approval from the misfit she had made king?
If any of the above were true, the results would have been predictable. She began working on her own agenda, not the Lord's as transmitted to her by the Angel Michael. Is that why everything she did became a catastrophe? Is that why her king abandoned her, without even attempting to rescue her from their enemies? Did St. Michael abandon her? During her last great trial, when it became obvious, she was to be the victim of a kangaroo court, did Michael come to her rescue once more, at the end? We're told that at one point, she backed off from her claims that she had truly heard Angelic voices give her instructions. She was given a period of respite. But soon after, she resumed her claim with strength and fervor, knowing she would be burned at the stake, as a witch.
In the account of her death, it is reported that she was allowed to have a crucifix held up so she could look at it, as the raging flames hungrily darted up the pole, mercilessly anxious and ready to devour her body. She seemed to go into an ecstasy, oblivious of the red hot flames that were closing in on her, enveloping her, attacking the young body of the former standard bearer and soldier of Jesus and Mary, and France. Everyone waited anxiously to see her react to the fire, to hear her cry out for mercy. But she didn't. It was as if she didn't feel any pain! Then, something unusual happened at her execution. One of the spectators, the secretary to King Henry, cried out, as Joan was dying, "We are lost; we have burned a saint!"
Is it possible, that although she had disobeyed him, at the end, her Angel, her Michael, came to her rescue? Could he have stretched out his massive wings and covered the body of this little girl who had trusted him so completely? Did he protect her from the flames, so that she experienced no pain, as her body was destroyed, and her soul was lifted up to Heaven?
We believe St. Michael the Archangel, and very possibly a legion of Angels were there, to bring their sister Home, after her hard battle. We know the Lord was protecting her. But we have to trust that He was more interested in her soul than her body.
We don't understand the Lord's ways. We don't know why He allowed Joan of Arc to suffer the way she did. But we know that He loves us, that He wants nothing more than to lift all of us up into Glory. Do we hear Angelic voices the way Joan did? Do we listen to their instructions? Do we respond the way she did? Do we trust our souls to their bidding? The time may be coming, indeed it may be here, when the salvation of our souls will depend on how strictly we obey their directives. Think about it!
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What did Joan of Arc see in her visions? ›
When Joan was thirteen years old, she began hearing voices and seeing visions which she believed were sent by God. These voices and visions told her that it was her mission to free her country from the English, and to help the dauphin, Charles, gain the French throne.What did the Angels tell Joan of Arc? ›
Most importantly for Joan's life, however, was what the voices commanded her to do. She claimed that they told her to help the Dauphin by going to Orleans and breaking England's siege of the city.What are the symbols of St Joan of Arc? ›
Joan of Arc symbolizes, a sword for her loyalty to her army, a cross to represent how holy she was, and a crown because she was noble and didn't take no.What are 5 facts about Joan of Arc? ›
- She was born in the village of Domrémy. ...
- Her real name is a mystery. ...
- Her nickname became “the Maid of Orleans”. ...
- She began having visions at the age of 13. ...
- Her arrival would mark a turning point in the 100 year war. ...
- She was only 17-years-old when she caught the attention of the King.
Joan of Arc's claim to fame — the mysterious voices she heard and visions she saw during the Hundred Years' War — may actually have been due to a form of epilepsy, Italian researchers suggest.What lesson can we learn from Joan of Arc? ›
Joan was an incredible source of inspiration for her people – she led them to sell out to the vision to regain their freedom from the British and do whatever it takes to achieve it – including trusting a 16-year-old girl with the leadership of the army!What were the last words that Joan of Arc said? ›
As the fire was lit, and spread, she uttered her last words, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus,” she said, repeating Christ's name several times before her death.What visions did Joan of Arc see when she was 12 years old? ›
When Joan was around twelve years old she had a vision. She saw Michael the Archangel. He told her that she was to lead the French in a battle against the English. After she drove the English out she was to take the king to be crowned at Rheims.What is the miracle of Joan of Arc? ›
Although technically Joan was exempt from the first three miracles because of her martyrdom, she performed them anyway; three nuns were miraculously healed from cancers after praying to Joan. On the path to canonization, Joan also reportedly healed a woman of tuberculosis and another woman of a hole in her foot.What did Joan of Arc flag say? ›
“A white banner, sprinkled with fleur-de-lys; on the one side, the figure of Our Lord in Glory, holding the world, and giving His benediction to a lily, held by one of two Angels who are kneeling on each side: the words 'Jhesus Maria' at the side; on the other side the figure of Our Lady and a shield with the arms of ...
What do you pray to Joan of Arc for? ›
Heroic Joan, help me to uphold justice: Imprisoned, neglected, threatened and condemned, Sentenced to die as a heretic, the most cruelest death, To die by the fire and be raised up in heaven!What does the Joan of Arc statue represent? ›
Rearing back on her steed, Joan represents the strength, power, and perseverance of New Orleans, a city that no foe may defeat.What is the weakness of Joan of Arc? ›
Yet, with all her martial ability, she had her weaknesses. She was too dependent on artillery and she never fought defensively, and as a result, she lost four battles, the fourth of which was her last.What was the last word that Joan of Arc screamed as she died? ›
Even as she was burned, Joan did not recant. To the end, she continued to claim that the voices she had heard all her life were divine in nature. She called on her three favorite saints for help as she burned. Right before she lost consciousness, she yelled out: "Jesus!"What is Saint Joan short summary? ›
Saint Joan is a 1923 play by George Bernard Shaw. It depicts the story of Joan of Arc, a peasant girl from France who rose to prominence as a military commander by heeding the voices of the saints in her head. Despite leading French forces to victory in many battles, she was burned at the stake for being a heretic.What are three important life events of Joan of Arc? ›
Joan of Arc orchestrates the Loire Campaign to bring Charles VII to Rheims for coronation. Joan of Arc succeeds in meeting the dauphin who accepts her offer to help him. Joan of Arc prays in Orleans Cathedral during the Hundred Years' War. Joan of Arc is captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English.How did Joan of Arc influence the world we live in today? ›
Perhaps the key to Joan of Arc's wide-ranging legacy is that she has morphed over the centuries to become all things to all people – a saint martyred by her Catholic church, a feminist who lacked female solidarity, and a monarchist poster child for democracy.Why do you think the story of Joan of Arc is remembered today? ›
She was an inspirational figure for her country's armies and led then into battle against the English during the Hundred Years War.How did Joan of Arc influence the world? ›
Joan of Arc had a very significant influence on society in the middle ages. It was not only for being a heroine and saint she was recognised for but she was also recognised as a leader and founder of the feminists. Joan became a role model to many women as she symbolised individual and independent thinking.Why was Joan burned at the stake? ›
Joan of Arc is burned at the stake for heresy. On May 30, 1431, at Rouen in English-controlled Normandy, Joan of Arc, the peasant girl who became the savior of France, is burned at the stake for heresy.
Did the King betray Joan of Arc? ›
When Joan was captured by Jean de Luxembourg, the king refused to pay her ransom, and she was sold to the English. Joan was then put on trial and convicted of heresy, plus a long list of other "sins." On May 30, 1431 she was burned at the stake.Did Joan of Arc hear from God? ›
At the age of 13, Joan began to hear voices, which she determined had been sent by God to give her a mission of overwhelming importance: to save France by expelling its enemies, and to install Charles as its rightful king. As part of this divine mission, Joan took a vow of chastity.Who does Joan of Arc see a vision from? ›
From the age of 13, Joan allegedly began to experience visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria. These visions told her to recover France from English control and reinstate Charles VII as its rightful king, a mission she should fulfill with divine purpose.Did Joan of Arc see angels? ›
Joan had her first vision after this raid. Joan later testified that when she was thirteen, around 1425, a figure she identified as Saint Michael surrounded by angels appeared to her in the garden. After this vision, she said she wept because she wanted them to take her with them.What does Joan of Arc's ring say? ›
Made in about 1400, the silver gilt devotional ring bears the inscription 'IHS' and 'MAR' for Jesus and Mary.What was Joan of Arc not afraid? ›
As Joan of Arc was leaving Vaucouleurs to begin her mission to save France she was asked by a woman: “How can you make such a journey when on all sides are soldiers?” to which Joan responded: “I do not fear the soldiers, for my road is made open to me; and if the soldiers come, I have God, my Lord, who will know how to ...What is the main theme of Saint Joan? ›
The main theme of Saint Joan is the difference between true religious faith and the hypocrisy of organized religion. Joan is a true believer, one who strives to do God's will in everything she does.
' According to historians, Joan of Arc was 19 when she was burnt at the stake in Rouen by the English on 30 May, 1431.Who condemned Joan of Arc to death? ›
In 1430 St. Joan of Arc was captured by the English and their French collaborators and tried as a heretic. Convicted, she was burned to death on May 30, 1431, at age 19. Few witnesses of her death seem to have doubted her salvation, and Pope Calixtus III annulled her sentence in 1455–56.Did Joan of Arc suffer? ›
Due to the divine voices she heard, some modern researchers have concluded that she might have suffered from mental illness with auditory hallucinations. It must, however, be stated here that many contemporaries who wrote about Joan of Arc spoke highly about her health and intelligence.
Did Joan of Arc have mental? ›
Physicians have suggested that she was psychotic, psychopathic, or epileptic (3, 4). A seizure disorder is most consistent with the historical record, given the episodic nature of Joan's symptoms, the clarity of her consciousness and thought between episodes, and the reasonableness of her self-defense (5).What is the conclusion for Saint Joan? ›
Saint Joan ends with an epilogue, in which a good number of the characters materialize in a dream and discuss Joan's legacy on earth. In it we learn how King Charles had Joan's name cleared twenty-five years after he let her be executed.Did Joan of Arc have hallucinations? ›
Results: From the age of thirteen, Joan of Arc experienced frequent episodes of auditory hallucinations associated with elementary or complex visual hallucinations (e.g., a great light or human faces). These had sudden onset, lasting seconds or minutes at most, and occurred when awake or during sleep, arousing her.Did Joan of Arc see fairies? ›
As far as she knew, she said, she never saw the fairies at the tree.” Joan acknowledges that stories of fairies were part of her early upbringing but is careful to distance herself from any beliefs that can be held against her.What was the most important thing about Joan of Arc? ›
Joan of Arc is a national heroine of France. She was a peasant girl who, believing that she was acting under divine guidance, led the French army in a momentous victory at Orléans in 1429 that repulsed an English attempt to conquer France during the Hundred Years' War.What were Joan of Arc's three miracles? ›
Although technically Joan was exempt from the first three miracles because of her martyrdom, she performed them anyway; three nuns were miraculously healed from cancers after praying to Joan. On the path to canonization, Joan also reportedly healed a woman of tuberculosis and another woman of a hole in her foot.Why do you think Joan of Arc is so well remembered today? ›
She was an inspirational figure for her country's armies and led then into battle against the English during the Hundred Years War.What mental illness did Joan of Arc suffer from? ›
Recent reanalysis of Joan of Arc's testimony concluded that she likely had autosomal dominant lateral temporal epilepsy or idiopathic partial epilepsy with auditory features (6, 7).What did Mark Twain say about Joan of Arc? ›
Although it is obscure today, he thought it far better than Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn, recalling: “I like Joan of Arc best of all my books… It furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing.What was the color of Joan's armor and horse during the Battle of Orleans? ›
It had been prophesied that France would be saved by a virgin from Lorraine, and so Charles ordered a suit of armor made for her, and a 12-foot white banner trimmed in silk with painted saints and fleurs-de-lis, and sent la Pucelle, the Maid, to join his army. Joan wore unadorned armor and rode a white horse.
What was the first story about fairies? ›
The first tales of fairies date back to Greek mythology, where fairies protected the Earth with vigor and might. In the 1400s, England came up with a new idea of “little people” who were either nice or evil. This invoked fear in the British, and the average citizen avoided every place that fairies lived.