Today, May 30, we celebrate the feast day of *Saint Joan of Arc* (1412-1431), virgin martyr of the Church, and patron saint of France.
Joan (born Johanne) was the fifth child of pious peasant landowners. The family was poor, but able to survive with the children working.
Joan never learned to read or write, but was skilled in sewing and spinning and other domestic pursuits. She was known for her devotion to the Lord, even at an early age, and was described as a singularly pious child, grave beyond her years, who often knelt in the church absorbed in prayer, and loved the poor tenderly. Joan is recorded as having given up her food and her bed for the poor on many occasions, herself going hungry and sleeping on the floor.
She consecrated herself to God, pledging her virginity and chastity. When Joan was twelve, she began receiving heavenly messages while outside in the family garden. At first the messages were quite personal and general. The messengers
of the Lord instructed her to visit the King of France to help him reclaim the entirety of France.
Joan tried to resist the voices, not out of fear, but rather out of humility. Upon telling the king of her visions, he readily believed her and granted her a small army.
After being accepted and approved by a Church council headed by the Archbishop of Reims, Joan was allowed to lead the Dauphin’s army. She made a standard, which she carried into battle, bearing the words: “Jesus. Mary,” and containing a picture of the Lord with angels kneeling beside Him.
Joan was wounded numerous times in battle. It was through her leadership that a truce was declared, effectively ending the Hundred Years War, and establishing Charles as King of France.
From this time on, for reasons known only to King Charles, the king no longer valued Joan’s advice and guidance. She was sold to the English and placed on trial for heresy and witchcraft.
The council convicted her of heresy and sorcery, and sentenced her to death. Joan was allowed to make her Confession and receive the Holy Eucharist, and then tied to a stake to be burned alive.
One of King Henry’s aids, viewing the scene with horror and remorse exclaimed, “We are lost! We have burned a saint!” She was beatified by Pope Saint Pius X in 1905 and canonized in 1920.
*St. Joan of Arc, pray for us*.
*✝Intercession to St. Joan of Arc*
O Lord, you wondrously raised up Joan, your virgin, to defend the Faith and her country in Your name.
Through her intercession grant that the Church may overcome the snares of her enemies, and attain lasting peace. Amen