Pope Benedict XV canonized St. Joan of Arc on May 16, 1920. Her feast day is on May 30. Joan, also known as the Maid of Orleans and la Pucelle captivated the hearts of many including the American writer Mark Twain. His book on St. Joan is a classic and well worth reading. It is available from Ignatius Press. Twain considered it his finest book and Joan one of the finest human beings who ever lived. George Bernard Shaw also an unlikely author for this saint wrote the famous play Saint Joan. For The transcript of her trial is also available. One of the most moving moments in her trial was the moment she was asked whether she was in a state of grace, that is, without mortal sin. Joan was unlettered and unschooled in theology but gave a perfect answer consistent with Catholic teaching. Only God knows the absolute state of anyone’s soul. Joan responded: If I am may God keep me in it and if I am not may He bring me to it.
St. Joan witnesses her complete trust in God and the desire to do His will. She also gives witness to the companionship of the saints who love us and surround us. (Read St.John Henry Newman’s sermon “The Invisible World.”) St. Joan was given the special companionship of St. Margaret, St. Catherine, and St. Michael. Joan was born in Domremy France in 1412. From the saints mentioned she received her mission to aid the King of France. God uses all the events of this world including using even pagan kings to carry out His will.
The Daily Missal (Missal Quotidien) of the Abbey of Saint Madeleine du Barroux gives the following sketch of her life. In 1429 she went to the King and subsequently led an army to enter Orleans. The King was later consecrated at Rheims thanks to the victories let by Joan which she always attributed to the plan of God. She was taken prisoner in 1430 and her ordeal of suffering began as a long Calvary. Imprisoned, sold, accused of sorcery, judged for political reasons by a religious tribunal she was condemned to burned at the stake in Rouen, May 30. 1431. She never ceased to protest her innocence, her fidelity to God, and her submission to the Church. The purity of her faith, her uprightness, her piety and charity even in battle testified to her sincerity and holiness.
The Collect in the traditional Mass for her feast day prays: O God, You Who raised up in a wondrous manner the Virgin, blessed Joan to defend the faith and her country; grant we beseech You that through her intercession Your Church having overcome the snares of her enemies, may enjoy unbroken peace. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your son Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.BACK TO LIST