O Lord, you wondrously raised up Saint Joan d'Arc, 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.


Saint Joan of Arc, pray for us!


Composed by:

Louis, Bishop of Saint Dié

Brief summary on St. Joan's life click here.

St. Joan of Arc: The Virgin Who Saved France

St. Joan of Arc

How a saintly girl did more to restore chivalry than kings, nobles and knights...

A commonly voiced prophecy held that France would be lost by a woman but saved by a virgin from Lorraine. The woman was France's queen, Isabelle of Bavaria. The virgin savior, the voices affirmed, was Joan, whom France's true sovereign, Christ the King, would arm with His strength.

We need not speculate about Joan's voices, as did her judges in Rouen. History demonstrates that Joan's mission was supernatural, for there is no other plausible explanation for its triumph.

We need to simply recall that Joan's crusade lasted but a year, followed by another year of imprisonment. Yet, in that brief span, against all odds, she freed France from its English occupiers.

Having accepted her mission, Joan had no doubt it would succeed. Still, she told no one — not even her mother. Her father, however, had dreamt of his daughter departing with soldiers and threatened to drown her to prevent such dishonor.

Thus, to leave Domremy safely, she was obliged to disguise her mission. She said she was going to help her uncle's wife, who was with child. The uncle escorted Joan to Vaucouleurs, the last bastion in Lorraine under Charles' control.

When Joan insisted that Captain Robert de Baudricourt take her to Chinon to save the king, he burst out laughing. He advised Joan's uncle to spank her soundly and return her to her parents.  Joan, however, stood her ground, gaining the sympathy of the people of Vaucouleurs, who began to believe in her mission. Among her new champions were two squires, John de Novelpont, and Bernard de Poulangy.

Church investigators record their dialogue thus:

"My friend, what dost thou here? Must then the king be chased from his kingdom and all of us become English?"

"I come here to talk to Robert de Baudricourt so that he either deigns take me, or have me taken, to the king," Joan replies. "There is no solution but through me. And even then I would much rather slip away to be with my poor mother, since this is not my state. But go I must, for such is the will of my Lord."

"But who is your lord?"

"The King of Heaven!"

Sign from God

At last, Baudricourt acceded to Joan's wishes, providing her with a sword and a small escort under Poulangy's command. They left Vaucouleurs on February 13, 1429. The odds were against them as they marched toward Chinon, for they had to cross more than 60 miles of enemy territory.

Nonetheless, Joan arrived at Chinon at noon, February 23. While she was welcomed by the people as an angel of salvation, Charles hesitated to receive her. His counselors advised the king that Joan was an ambitious adventuress, perhaps even a sorceress.
Orleans was already regarded as lost, and its inhabitants were negotiating a surrender to the English.

On February 25, Charles received Joan at his château. Although the king disguised his rank, Joan, who had never seen him, found him among the lowliest members of his retinue and knelt before him.

"Gentle dauphin, my name is Joan the Virgin," she proclaimed, "The King of Heaven tells thee through me that thou shalt be crowned in the city of Reims and that thou shalt be the lieutenant of the King of Heaven, who is the true King of France."

Naturally, the earthly king required tangible proof. As Charles' mother had denied his legitimacy to appease the English, he was uncertain of his status. A few days earlier, he had begged God to grant him a sign of his legitimacy. It was this intimate prayer that Joan revealed to Charles when they spoke alone. The king had received the sign he sought.

The king then sent Joan to Poitiers to be examined by a commission of theologians. When they too demanded a sign, she replied, "In the name of God, I have not come to Poitiers to give signs. Take me to Orleans and I will show you the signs for which I have been sent."

Victory in Orleans

By scrounging his last cents and going even deeper into debt, Charles managed to put together an army. He entrusted its command to the Duke of Alencon, whose lieutenants were scarcely altar boys. Somehow the army seemed transformed by Joan's presence: the soldiers stopped blaspheming, confessed their sins, and received Holy Communion. This alone was no small miracle.

Charles outfitted Joan with a suit of armor and a war horse. He provided her with an armed herald to act as her courier. For her standard, Joan had God the Creator emblazoned between two adoring angels bearing lilies. The standard bore the holy names of Jesus and Mary. There must be no doubt Who was leading France into battle.

On April 11, 1429, Joan departed for Orleans with the vanguard. Dunois, with his captains, came to greet her with what they deemed indispensable advice. "In God's name," Joan protested, "the Lord's counsel is better than thine. I bring thee better succor than any soldier could provide, the succor of the King of Heaven."

When a contrary wind kept supply barges from sailing forward, Joan dropped to her knees in prayer, and the wind shifted course, bringing badly needed food to the besieged city.

The English had surrounded Orleans with trenches and fortifications. Spurning the advice of her captains for the counsel of her voices, Joan decided to attack those redoubtable fortresses. In a few days she had conquered the most important strongholds and especially the Tourelles rampart, which guarded the sole bridge crossing the Loire.

On May 8, 1429, the English withdrew, and the siege of Orleans was lifted, just as Joan had foretold.  On June 12, Joan retook Jargeau; on June 15, Meungsur-Loire; and on June 17, Beaugency. In Patay, the English under General Talbot suffered a devastating defeat, losing 6,000 men.

Joan never boasted of a single victory, for she attributed each of them to God. Above all, she remained true to herself — the simple and pious maid of Domremy, to which she longed to return.

Coronation of Charles

In the wake of the stunning victory at Patay the Duke of Alençon proposed to take advantage of the momentum to recapture Normandy, but Joan wanted to take Charles to Reims to fulfill her mission.

To reach Reims, they had to cross the territory of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy.
Charles' small army left Gien on June 25, 1429. Fulfilling Joan's prediction, the Burgundian towns mysteriously opened their doors. The same took place in cities such as Troyes, Chalons-sur-Marne and, at last, Reims.

Charles VII is crowned in Reims

Charles was anointed in the cathedral of Reims on July 17 with Joan and her standard not far from his side. When she knelt before her sovereign at the conclusion of his coronation, Joan rejoiced, "Gentle king, God's good pleasure, that I should lift the siege of Orleans, bring thee hither to this city of Reims to receive thy true and holy anointing, thus showing that thou art the true king to which the kingdom must belong, has now been fulfilled."

Joan now wished to liberate Paris as she had Orleans. The early signs were encouraging. Chateau-Thierry, Soissons, Creil, Pont-Saint-Maxence, Senlis, Beauvais, and Compiegne expelled the English garrisons and opened their doors to King Charles. The campaign was turning into a triumphal march, yet the king showed little interest in advancing on Paris. Unbeknownst to Joan, Charles was secretly negotiating a peace treaty with the treacherous Philip the Good.

Betrayed by the king

The king allowed Joan to advance as far as Saint Denis, where she was wounded in a failed attempt to take the St. Honore gate. Charles then ordered her to withdraw. To keep Joan busy and out of the way, the king next sent her to lay siege to some insignificant fortresses held by a rogue knight.

Finally, Charles ennobled Joan and presented her with a magnificent coat of arms, much as corporate executives give gold watches to employees whom they force to retire.
Joan, however, was not to be bribed into betraying the trust that God — and countless countrymen — had placed in her. Charles now sought to hand over Compiegne to Burgundy, but the village desired to remain French and cried out to the virgin from Loraine in its hour of need.

Joan came at once with a small band of brave souls and was captured by the Burgundians during a sortie on May 12, 1430. The English were ecstatic as Joan was delivered into their hands.

Capture of the Maid at Compiegne

Christmas Eve found Joan in the hands of the Earl of Warwick, governor of Normandy. Joan, who once stood by her king in a magnificent cathedral, was now abandoned by him to a dank and dark cell. Her hands, once devoutly kissed by her countrymen, were bound in chains, as were her feet. At night, yet another chain fastened to a wooden beam kept her confined to bed.

The modest maiden was not afforded a moment's privacy. Vile men of the lowest sort watched her every movement. They assailed her virginal chastity with vulgar insults and might have violated her person save for the grace of God and the protection provided by her soldier's attire.  By far the worse deprivation that Joan suffered, however, was the denial of the consolations of Mass and Holy Communion.

Bishop or pawn?

Bedford was a crafty politician. He wished to discredit Joan in the eyes of her countrymen — not to transform her into a martyr. Bedford's plan was to have Joan condemned by an ecclesiastical court and thus turn the saint into a sorceress. To this end, he resorted to Bishop Pierre Cauchon, a traitorous Frenchman and counselor of King Henry.

Having been expelled from his own diocese held by the French, the bishop coveted the vacant see of Rouen, controlled by the English.  Joan had braved enemy soldiers at the risk of her life, but now she faced a perfidious bishop with risks to her immortal soul. Her victories in Orleans and Patay were glorious indeed, but in Rouen, she would attain true grandeur.

Joan's trial began on January 9, 1431. Bishop Cauchon sought above all to provide his English patrons with a confession — however fraudulent and coerced — that Joan's voices were not real and that the angel who guided her was not God's champion, the archangel Michael, but His enemy, the fallen angel Lucifer.

Bedford and Bishop Cauchon had planned everything — except Joan's heroic resistance. They tried to trap her with duplicitous questions, to weary her spirits through unending examinations, but she parried every thrust, preceding each defense of truth with an assault on lies.

Thus Joan challenged Bishop Cauchon from the start: "You say that you are my judge. Be very mindful of what you shall do, for I truly am an envoy of God and you are placing yourself in great danger. I warn you of this so that, if Our Lord punishes you, I will have done my duty of having cautioned you."

It was a warning the renegade bishop disregarded at grave peril to his own soul, as he desperately tried every possible trick, even sending a fake confessor into her cell.

The preliminary proceedings ended on March 17, 1431, with an act of 72 articles accusing Joan of bad faith. The trial resumed on March 27 with Joan affirming from the onset:

"I want to maintain the position I've always held during these proceedings. If I were judged and saw the executioner ready to light the fire, I would say and hold, even unto death, nothing different than I have so far."

"Let God be served first!"

Unable to force a confession, Bishop Cauchon now sought to catch Joan in a doctrinally damning error. She was, after all, a simple Christian who knew nothing about theology. She must stop claiming she was sent by God and submit the matter to the judgment of theologians who alone could discern the nature of her supposed voices.
Three times, Joan was warned about the difference between the Church Triumphant and the Church Militant, but when her tormentors demanded she submit, Joan replied, "Let God be served first!"

Cast as unwillingness to submit to the Church, Joan's resistance was the pretext needed to condemn her as a "heretic," and she was sentenced to death.

On May 24, 1431, she was brought to St. Ouen's cemetery. When Bishop Cauchon began to read her death sentence, Joan was overcome with the fear of dying, and she cried out that she would bow to the Church and recant.

The English were outraged at the thought that their prey might escape the stake, but their lackey Bishop Cauchon would not fail them. He had planned for this contingency and, while he modified Joan's sentence to life imprisonment, as the law demanded, he made certain the revised sentence could never be carried out.

Although the law also required that Joan be confined to an ecclesiastical prison, Bishop Cauchon returned her to the tower in Bouvreuil. Far worse, knowing the threats to her chastity that Joan had suffered there and the dangers to her person and virginity, the bishop decreed that Joan must no longer wear "man's clothing," thus denying her the protection of a military uniform.

Joan resumed feminine dress as Bishop Cauchon had ordered, but when guards threatened her with sexual assault, she was compelled to return to her soldierly garb — conveniently left in her cell. The trap was sprung. As Bishop Cauchon chortled to Warwick, "All is well, we caught her!"

Joan was condemned to death as a "relapsed heretic." On May 30, 1431, she was taken to Old Market Square, the place of her execution. Enveloped in flames, Joan cried out the name of Jesus six times before dying.

Out of the ashes

Warwick had Joan's noble heart, which had remained intact, dumped into the Seine along with her ashes lest they be venerated as relics, but her captors' dreams of victory disappeared as did Joan's ashes under the waters.

King Charles returned to the battlefield, capturing Normandy, Paris, Guyenne, and finally Bordeaux. Joan's sacrifice had instilled renewed courage.

When Charles entered Rouen, his first act was to convene an inquiry under papal writ to review Joan's trial. More than 100 surviving witnesses were questioned during the proceedings, which ended with her unjust condemnation being declared null and void.
In pages yellowed with age, the truth about this simple maid from Domremy, Joan's simple truth, shines forth. Like a beacon on the horizon in the darkest night, it reminds us that what we believed was lost can yet be found.

And I know that, deep in our countryside, where the real soul of France lies dormant, there remain those who believe with Joan that the King of Heaven is the true king of France.

This article is adapted from a lecture given in Paris on May 10, 2001, by Georges Bordonove, a distinguished historian and member of the Academie Française.





St. Joan of Arc

In French Jeanne d'Arc; by her contemporaries commonly known as la Pucelle (the Maid).

Born at Domremy in Champagne, probably on 6 January, 1412; died at Rouen, 30 May, 1431. The village of Domremy lay upon the confines of territory which recognized the suzerainty of the Duke of Burgundy, but in the protracted conflict between the Armagnacs (the party of Charles VII, King of France), on the one hand, and the Burgundians in alliance with the English, on the other, Domremy had always remained loyal to Charles.

Jacques d'Arc, Joan's father, was a small peasant farmer, poor but not needy. Joan seems to have been the youngest of a family of five. She never learned to read or write but was skilled in sewing and spinning, and the popular idea that she spent the days of her childhood in the pastures, alone with the sheep and cattle, is quite unfounded. All the witnesses in the process of rehabilitation spoke of her as a singularly pious child, grave beyond her years, who often knelt in the church absorbed in prayer, and loved the poor tenderly. Great attempts were made at Joan's trial to connect her with some superstitious practices supposed to have been performed round a certain tree, popularly known as the "Fairy Tree" (l'Arbre des Dames), but the sincerity of her answers baffled her judges. She had sung and danced there with the other children, and had woven wreaths for Our Lady's statue, but since she was twelve years old she had held aloof from such diversions.

It was at the age of thirteen and a half, in the summer of 1425, that Joan first became conscious of that manifestation, whose supernatural character it would now be rash to question, which she afterwards came to call her "voices" or her "counsel." It was at first simply a voice, as if someone had spoken quite close to her, but it seems also clear that a blaze of light accompanied it, and that later on she clearly discerned in some way the appearance of those who spoke to her, recognizing them individually as St. Michael (who was accompanied by other angels), St. Margaret, St. Catherine, and others. Joan was always reluctant to speak of her voices. She said nothing about them to her confessor, and constantly refused, at her trial, to be inveigled into descriptions of the appearance of the saints and to explain how she recognized them. None the less, she told her judges: "I saw them with these very eyes, as well as I see you."

Great efforts have been made by rationalistic historians, such as M. Anatole France, to explain these voices as the result of a condition of religious and hysterical exaltation which had been fostered in Joan by priestly influence, combined with certain prophecies current in the countryside of a maiden from the bois chesnu (oak wood), near which the Fairy Tree was situated, who was to save France by a miracle. But the baselessness of this analysis of the phenomena has been fully exposed by many non-Catholic writers. There is not a shadow of evidence to support this theory of priestly advisers coaching Joan in a part, but much which contradicts it. Moreover, unless we accuse the Maid of deliberate falsehood, which no one is prepared to do, it was the voices which created the state of patriotic exaltation, and not the exaltation which preceded the voices. Her evidence on these points is clear.

Although Joan never made any statement as to the date at which the voices revealed her mission, it seems certain that the call of God was only made known to her gradually. But by May, 1428, she no longer doubted that she was bidden to go to the help of the king, and the voices became insistent, urging her to present herself to Robert Baudricourt, who commanded for Charles VII in the neighbouring town of Vaucouleurs. This journey she eventually accomplished a month later, but Baudricourt, a rude and dissolute soldier, treated her and her mission with scant respect, saying to the cousin who accompanied her: "Take her home to her father and give her a good whipping."

Meanwhile the military situation of King Charles and his supporters was growing more desperate. Orléans was invested (12 October, 1428), and by the close of the year complete defeat seemed imminent. Joan's voices became urgent, and even threatening. It was in vain that she resisted, saying to them: "I am a poor girl; I do not know how to ride or fight." The voices only reiterated: "It is God who commands it." Yielding at last, she left Domremy in January, 1429, and again visited Vaucouleurs.

Baudricourt was still skeptical, but, as she stayed on in the town, her persistence gradually made an impression on him. On 17 February she announced a great defeat which had befallen the French arms outside Orléans (the Battle of the Herrings). As this statement was officially confirmed a few days later, her cause gained ground. Finally she was suffered to seek the king at Chinon, and she made her way there with a slender escort of three men-at-arms, she being attired, at her own request, in male costume -- undoubtedly as a protection to her modesty in the rough life of the camp. She always slept fully dressed, and all those who were intimate with her declared that there was something about her which repressed every unseemly thought in her regard.

She reached Chinon on 6 March, and two days later was admitted into the presence of Charles VII. To test her, the king had disguised himself, but she at once saluted him without hesitation amidst a group of attendants. From the beginning a strong party at the court -- La Trémoille, the royal favourite, foremost among them -- opposed her as a crazy visionary, but a secret sign, communicated to her by her voices, which she made known to Charles, led the king, somewhat half-heartedly, to believe in her mission. What this sign was, Joan never revealed, but it is now most commonly believed that this "secret of the king" was a doubt Charles had conceived of the legitimacy of his birth, and which Joan had been supernaturally authorized to set at rest.

Still, before Joan could be employed in military operations she was sent to Poitiers to be examined by a numerous committee of learned bishops and doctors. The examination was of the most searching and formal character. It is regrettable in the extreme that the minutes of the proceedings, to which Joan frequently appealed later on at her trial, have altogether perished. All that we know is that her ardent faith, simplicity, and honesty made a favourable impression. The theologians found nothing heretical in her claims to supernatural guidance, and, without pronouncing upon the reality of her mission, they thought that she might be safely employed and further tested.

Returning to Chinon, Joan made her preparations for the campaign. Instead of the sword the king offered her, she begged that search might be made for an ancient sword buried, as she averred, behind the altar in the chapel of Ste-Catherine-de-Fierbois. It was found in the very spot her voices indicated. There was made for her at the same time a standard bearing the words Jesus, Maria, with a picture of God the Father, and kneeling angels presenting a fleur-de-lis.

But perhaps the most interesting fact connected with this early stage of her mission is a letter of one Sire de Rotslaer written from Lyons on 22 April, 1429, which was delivered at Brussels and duly registered, as the manuscript to this day attests, before any of the events referred to received their fulfilment. The Maid, he reports, said "that she would save Orléans and would compel the English to raise the siege, that she herself in a battle before Orléans would be wounded by a shaft but would not die of it, and that the King, in the course of the coming summer, would be crowned at Reims, together with other things which the King keeps secret."

Before entering upon her campaign, Joan summoned the King of England to withdraw his troops from French soil. The English commanders were furious at the audacity of the demand, but Joan by a rapid movement entered Orléans on 30 April. Her presence there at once worked wonders. By 8 May the English forts which encircled the city had all been captured, and the siege raised, though on the 7th Joan was wounded in the breast by an arrow. So far as the Maid went she wished to follow up these successes with all speed, partly from a sound warlike instinct, partly because her voices had already told her that she had only a year to last. But the king and his advisers, especially La Trémoille and the Archbishop of Reims, were slow to move. However, at Joan's earnest entreaty a short campaign was begun upon the Loire, which, after a series of successes, ended on 18 June with a great victory at Patay, where the English reinforcements sent from Paris under Sir John Fastolf were completely routed. The way to Reims was now practically open, but the Maid had the greatest difficulty in persuading the commanders not to retire before Troyes, which was at first closed against them. They captured the town and then, still reluctantly, followed her to Reims, where, on Sunday, 17 July, 1429, Charles VII was solemnly crowned, the Maid standing by with her standard, for -- as she explained -- "as it had shared in the toil, it was just that it should share in the victory."

The principal aim of Joan's mission was thus attained, and some authorities assert that it was now her wish to return home, but that she was detained with the army against her will. The evidence is to some extent conflicting, and it is probable that Joan herself did not always speak in the same tone. Probably she saw clearly how much might have been done to bring about the speedy expulsion of the English from French soil, but on the other hand she was constantly oppressed by the apathy of the king and his advisers, and by the suicidal policy which snatched at every diplomatic bait thrown out by the Duke of Burgundy.

An abortive attempt on Paris was made at the end of August. Though St-Denis was occupied without opposition, the assault which was made on the city on 8 September was not seriously supported, and Joan, while heroically cheering on her men to fill the moat, was shot through the thigh with a bolt from a crossbow. The Duc d'Alençon removed her almost by force, and the assault was abandoned. The reverse unquestionably impaired Joan's prestige, and shortly afterwards, when, through Charles' political counsellors, a truce was signed with the Duke of Burgundy, she sadly laid down her arms upon the altar of St-Denis.

The inactivity of the following winter, mostly spent amid the worldliness and the jealousy of the Court, must have been a miserable experience for Joan. It may have been with the idea of consoling her that Charles, on 29 December, 1429, ennobled the Maid and all her family, who henceforward, from the lilies on their coat of arms, were known by the name of Du Lis. It was April before Joan was able to take the field again at the conclusion of the truce, and at Melun her voices made known to her that she would be taken prisoner before Midsummer Day. Neither was the fulfilment of this prediction long delayed. It seems that she had thrown herself into Compiègne on 24 May at sunrise to defend the town against Burgundian attack. In the evening she resolved to attempt a sortie, but her little troop of some five hundred encountered a much superior force. Her followers were driven back and retired desperately fighting. By some mistake or panic of Guillaume de Flavy, who commanded in Compiègne, the drawbridge was raised while still many of those who had made the sortie remained outside, Joan amongst the number. She was pulled down from her horse and became the prisoner of a follower of John of Luxemburg. Guillaume de Flavy has been accused of deliberate treachery, but there seems no adequate reason to suppose this. He continued to hold Compiègne resolutely for his king, while Joan's constant thought during the early months of her captivity was to escape and come to assist him in this task of defending the town.

No words can adequately describe the disgraceful ingratitude and apathy of Charles and his advisers in leaving the Maid to her fate. If military force had not availed, they had prisoners like the Earl of Suffolk in their hands, for whom she could have been exchanged. Joan was sold by John of Luxembourg to the English for a sum which would amount to several hundred thousand dollars in modern money. There can be no doubt that the English, partly because they feared their prisoner with a superstitious terror, partly because they were ashamed of the dread which she inspired, were determined at all costs to take her life. They could not put her to death for having beaten them, but they could get her sentenced as a witch and a heretic.

Moreover, they had a tool ready to their hand in Pierre Cauchon, the Bishop of Beauvais, an unscrupulous and ambitious man who was the creature of the Burgundian party. A pretext for invoking his authority was found in the fact that Compiègne, where Joan was captured, lay in the Diocese of Beauvais. Still, as Beauvais was in the hands of the French, the trial took place at Rouen -- the latter see being at that time vacant. This raised many points of technical legality which were summarily settled by the parties interested.

The Vicar of the Inquisition at first, upon some scruple of jurisdiction, refused to attend, but this difficulty was overcome before the trial ended. Throughout the trial Cauchon's assessors consisted almost entirely of Frenchmen, for the most part theologians and doctors of the University of Paris. Preliminary meetings of the court took place in January, but it was only on 21 February, 1431, that Joan appeared for the first time before her judges. She was not allowed an advocate, and, though accused in an ecclesiastical court, she was throughout illegally confined in the Castle of Rouen, a secular prison, where she was guarded by dissolute English soldiers. Joan bitterly complained of this. She asked to be in the church prison, where she would have had female attendants. It was undoubtedly for the better protection of her modesty under such conditions that she persisted in retaining her male attire. Before she had been handed over to the English, she had attempted to escape by desperately throwing herself from the window of the tower of Beaurevoir, an act of seeming presumption for which she was much browbeaten by her judges. This also served as a pretext for the harshness shown regarding her confinement at Rouen, where she was at first kept in an iron cage, chained by the neck, hands, and feet. On the other hand she was allowed no spiritual privileges -- e.g. attendance at Mass -- on account of the charge of heresy and the monstrous dress (difformitate habitus) she was wearing.

As regards the official record of the trial, which, so far as the Latin version goes, seems to be preserved entire, we may probably trust its accuracy in all that relates to the questions asked and the answers returned by the prisoner. These answers are in every way favourable to Joan. Her simplicity, piety, and good sense appear at every turn, despite the attempts of the judges to confuse her. They pressed her regarding her visions, but upon many points she refused to answer. Her attitude was always fearless, and, upon 1 March, Joan boldly announced that "within seven years' space the English would have to forfeit a bigger prize than Orléans." In point of fact Paris was lost to Henry VI on 12 November, 1437 -- six years and eight months afterwards. It was probably because the Maid's answers perceptibly won sympathizers for her in a large assembly that Cauchon decided to conduct the rest of the inquiry before a small committee of judges in the prison itself. We may remark that the only matter in which any charge of prevarication can be reasonably urged against Joan's replies occurs especially in this stage of the inquiry. Joan, pressed about the secret sign given to the king, declared that an angel brought him a golden crown, but on further questioning she seems to have grown confused and to have contradicted herself. Most authorities (like, e.g., M. Petit de Julleville and Mr. Andrew Lang) are agreed that she was trying to guard the king's secret behind an allegory, she herself being the angel; but others -- for instance P. Ayroles and Canon Dunand -- insinuate that the accuracy of the procès-verbal cannot be trusted. On another point she was prejudiced by her lack of education. The judges asked her to submit herself to "the Church Militant." Joan clearly did not understand the phrase and, though willing and anxious to appeal to the pope, grew puzzled and confused. It was asserted later that Joan's reluctance to pledge herself to a simple acceptance of the Church's decisions was due to some insidious advice treacherously imparted to her to work her ruin. But the accounts of this alleged perfidy are contradictory and improbable.

The examinations terminated on 17 March. Seventy propositions were then drawn up, forming a very disorderly and unfair presentment of Joan's "crimes," but, after she had been permitted to hear and reply to these, another set of twelve were drafted, better arranged and less extravagantly worded. With this summary of her misdeeds before them, a large majority of the twenty-two judges who took part in the deliberations declared Joan's visions and voices to be "false and diabolical," and they decided that if she refused to retract she was to be handed over to the secular arm -- which was the same as saying that she was to be burned. Certain formal admonitions, at first private, and then public, were administered to the poor victim (18 April and 2 May), but she refused to make any submission which the judges could have considered satisfactory. On 9 May she was threatened with torture, but she still held firm. Meanwhile, the twelve propositions were submitted to the University of Paris, which, being extravagantly English in sympathy, denounced the Maid in violent terms. Strong in this approval, the judges, forty-seven in number, held a final deliberation, and forty-two reaffirmed that Joan ought to be declared heretical and handed over to the civil power, if she still refused to retract. Another admonition followed in the prison on 22 May, but Joan remained unshaken. The next day a stake was erected in the cemetery of St-Ouen, and in the presence of a great crowd she was solemnly admonished for the last time. After a courageous protest against the preacher's insulting reflections on her king, Charles VII, the accessories of the scene seem at last to have worked upon mind and body worn out by so many struggles. Her courage for once failed her. She consented to sign some sort of retraction, but what the precise terms of that retraction were will never be known. In the official record of the process a form of retraction is in inserted which is most humiliating in every particular. It is a long document which would have taken half an hour to read. What was read aloud to Joan and was signed by her must have been something quite different, for five witnesses at the rehabilitation trial, including Jean Massieu, the official who had himself read it aloud, declared that it was only a matter of a few lines. Even so, the poor victim did not sign unconditionally, but plainly declared that she only retracted in so far as it was God's will. However, in virtue of this concession, Joan was not then burned, but conducted back to prison.

The English and Burgundians were furious, but Cauchon, it seems, placated them by saying, "We shall have her yet." Undoubtedly her position would now, in case of a relapse, be worse than before, for no second retractation could save her from the flames. Moreover, as one of the points upon which she had been condemned was the wearing of male apparel, a resumption of that attire would alone constitute a relapse into heresy, and this within a few days happened, owing, it was afterwards alleged, to a trap deliberately laid by her jailers with the connivance of Cauchon. Joan, either to defend her modesty from outrage, or because her women's garments were taken from her, or, perhaps, simply because she was weary of the struggle and was convinced that her enemies were determined to have her blood upon some pretext, once more put on the man's dress which had been purposely left in her way. The end now came soon. On 29 May a court of thirty-seven judges decided unanimously that the Maid must be treated as a relapsed heretic, and this sentence was actually carried out the next day (30 May, 1431) amid circumstances of intense pathos. She is said, when the judges visited her early in the morning, first to have charged Cauchon with the responsibility of her death, solemnly appealing from him to God, and afterwards to have declared that "her voices had deceived her." About this last speech a doubt must always be felt. We cannot be sure whether such words were ever used, and, even if they were, the meaning is not plain. She was, however, allowed to make her confession and to receive Communion. Her demeanour at the stake was such as to move even her bitter enemies to tears. She asked for a cross, which, after she had embraced it, was held up before her while she called continuously upon the name of Jesus. "Until the last," said Manchon, the recorder at the trial, "she declared that her voices came from God and had not deceived her." After death her ashes were thrown into the Seine.

Twenty-four years later a revision of her trial, the procès de réhabilitation, was opened at Paris with the consent of the Holy See. The popular feeling was then very different, and, with but the rarest exceptions, all the witnesses were eager to render their tribute to the virtues and supernatural gifts of the Maid. The first trial had been conducted without reference to the pope; indeed it was carried out in defiance of St. Joan's appeal to the head of the Church. Now an appellate court constituted by the pope, after long inquiry and examination of witnesses, reversed and annulled the sentence pronounced by a local tribunal under Cauchon's presidency. The illegality of the former proceedings was made clear, and it speaks well for the sincerity of this new inquiry that it could not be made without inflicting some degree of reproach upon both the King of France and the Church at large, seeing that so great an injustice had been done and had so long been suffered to continue unredressed. Even before the rehabilitation trial, keen observers, like Eneas Sylvius Piccolomini (afterwards Pope Pius II), though still in doubt as to her mission, had discerned something of the heavenly character of the Maid. In Shakespeare's day she was still regarded in England as a witch in league with the fiends of hell, but a juster estimate had begun to prevail even in the pages of Speed's "History of Great Britaine" (1611). By the beginning of the nineteenth century the sympathy for her even in England was general. Such writers as Southey, Hallam, Sharon Turner, Carlyle, Landor, and, above all, De Quincey greeted the Maid with a tribute of respect which was not surpassed even in her own native land. Among her Catholic fellow-countrymen she had been regarded, even in her lifetime, as Divinely inspired.

At last the cause of her beatification was introduced upon occasion of an appeal addressed to the Holy See, in 1869, by Mgr Dupanloup, Bishop of Orléans, and, after passing through all its stages and being duly confirmed by the necessary miracles, the process ended in the decree being published by Pius X on 11 April, 1909. A Mass and Office of St. Joan, taken from the "Commune Virginum," with "proper" prayers, have been approved by the Holy See for use in the Diocese of Orléans.

St. Joan was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

APA citation. Thurston, H. (1910). St. Joan of Arc. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved February 7, 2009 from New Advent:

MLA citation. Thurston, Herbert. "St. Joan of Arc." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 7 Feb. 2009 a href="">>;.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Mark Dittman. Dedicated to my wife Joan, who looks to St. Joan of Arc as her heavenly patroness.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is feedback732 at (To help fight spam, this address might change occasionally.) Regrettably, I can't reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.

Timeline of the life of Saint Joan of Arc

1412 January 6 Approximate date of the birth of Saint Joan of Arc.

1422 October 21 Charles VI, king of France, dies leaving a controversy about his legal heir.

1424 Summer Joan of Arc is first visited by a "Voice" in her father's garden.

1428 May Joan makes her first trip to Vaucouleurs to meet with Robert de Baudricourt asking him to send her to the King.

1428 July Joan's home village of Domremy is raided by Burgundian troops and her family joined the other villagers in taking refuge in the nearby city of Neufchateau.

1428 October 12 English begin the siege of Orleans.

1429 January Joan again visits Robert de Baudricourt and predicts military defeat for the French.

1429 February 12 Battle of the Herrings where French troops from Orleans suffer defeat.

1429 February 23 Robert de Baudricourt finally sends her on her journey to Chinon escorted by two knights Jean de Metz and Bertrand de Poulengy.

1429 March 6 Joan of Arc arrives in Chinon.

1429 March 7 or   8  Joan visits the castle at Chinon and recognizes Charles VII among the crowd.

1429 mid-March Charles has Joan examined physically by ladies of his court. He also sent her to Poitiers to be examined by Church theologians.

1429 March 22 Joan dictates her first letter to the English demanding they leave France.

1429 early-April Joan goes to Tours where she receives armor, a sword and her banner.

1429 April 24  Joan of Arc joins the rest of her army at Blois.

1429 April 26  Joan departs Blois with the army for Orleans.

1429 April 29  Arrives before Orleans and meets Lord Dunois for the first time.
Under cover of night, Joan enters into Orleans by the Burgundy gate and goes to live there in Jacques Boucher's house. Main body of army is forced to return to Blois and cross to the other side of river Loire.

1429 May 4   Lord Dunois returns from Blois with main part of army and launched an assault against the English-held fortifications around the church of St-Loup. Joan awakens and rides out to rally the French troops just as they are falling back from a failed assault. Her appearance turns the tide.

1429 May 5  Sends final letter to English by way of arrow shot into Les Tourelles.

1429 May 6   Joan with army crosses the river Loire in boats to attack the southern forts. St Jean le Blanc was taken without a fight, followed by a successful assault against the English in Les Augustins.

1429 May 7  Assault on English fort Les Tourelles. Joan had predicted that she would be wounded by an arrow above her breast. In the afternoon she is wounded and the French fall back. After removing the arrow she prays and then seizes her banner and leads her troops forward again.

The Tourelles is overwhelmed and falls to the French. That evening Joan re-enters Orleans to a great victory celebration.

1429 May 8  The English abandon their remaining siege positions and withdraw from Orleans.

1429 May 15 Joan meets with Charles VII at Loches and urges him to push forward to Reims for his coronation.

1429 June 2 Joan of Arc given armorial bearings by Charles VII of a sword holding a crown with a single fleur-de-lis on the left and right.

1429 June 10 Departs Orleans with Alencon to begin the Loire Valley campaigne.

1429 June 11-12  Joan of Arc attacks and captures the city of Jargeau.

1429 June 15  Army moves forward and captures fortified bridge at Meung-sur-Loire.

1429 June 17  Joan of Arc liberates Beaugency when English garrison withdraws.

1429 June 18  Joan wins greatest military victory at Patay when her army decimates
English force under Lord Talbot. English dead are at least several thousand while French loses are less than a hundred.

1429 June 20  Joan of Arc visits Sully to urge Charles to proceed with her to Reims.

1429 June 24  Joan meets army and Charles at Gien to begin march to Reims.

1429 June 25  Joan sends letter to the town of Tournai giving greetings.

1429 June 29  Joan of Arc with royal army departs Gien.

1429 July 1-3 Army camped near the pro-Burgundian city of Auxerre, which refuses to surrender but agrees to neutrality.

1429 July 4  Joan sends letter to the city of Troyes as her army approaches.

1429 July 5-9  Joan of Arc besieges the city of Troyes.

1429 July 9  Troyes surrenders just as Joan is about to conduct full assault.

1429 July 14  Chalons-sur-Marne surrenders as Joan approaches the city.

1429 July 16  Reims opens its gates to Joan of Arc and Charles VII.

1429 July 17  Sends letter to Duke of Burgundy inviting him to unite with Charles VII.

1429 July 17  Charles VII is crowned King at the great Cathedral of Reims with Saint Joan of Arc standing beside him with her banner.

1429 July 21   Joan with Charles VII and Army begin meandering journey toward Paris.

1429 July 23   Soissons liberated by Joan and her army.

1429 July 29   Château-Thierry liberated.

1429 August 5  Joan sends letter to the people of Reims.

1429 August 15 Joan of Arc fights minor engagement with English and Duke of Bedford at Montépilloy.

1429 August 22  Joan sends letter responding to the Count of Armagnac.

1429 August 25  Joan arrives with Alencon at St. Denis to survey the Paris defenses.

1429 August 28  Charles VII formally ratifies another worthless treaty with Burgundy.

1429 September 8  Assault on Paris begins. Joan of Arc is wounded when a bolt from a crossbow hits her in the thigh near dusk. She refused to quit urging her soldiers to continue the attack. Against her orders she was carried
from the battlefield and the assault ended.

1429 September 9  Joan plans to resume offensive but Charles intervenes and orders the army to withdraw.

1429 September 21 After marching back to Gien-sur-Loire Charles VII disbands the army.

1429 November 4  With smaller army Joan of Arc captures the town of Saint-Pierre-le-Moûtier.

1429 November 9 Joan sends letter to the people of Riom.

1429 Late Novem  Joan of Arc begins siege of La Charité-sur-Loire.

1429 December 25 Siege of La Charité-sur-Loire fails and Joan returns to Jargeau for Christmas.

1430 Jan-March  Joan stays with Charles at his court as an unwilling honored guest.

1430 January  Joan and her family elevated to nobility and given the name du Lys.

1430 March 16  Joan sends letter to the people of Reims.

1430 March 28  Joan sends her final letter to the people of Reims.

1430 March 29  Joan leaves the court at Sully to join French fighting at Lagney.

1430 April Joan prays for dead child at Lagney that makes miraculous recovery.

1430 April 17 Joan of Arc liberates the town of Melun.

1430 May 15 Joan of Arc goes to the aid of the town of Compiègne

1430 May 23  Captured by Burgundians when the drawbridge at Compiègne is raised.

1430 May-Nov  Joan of Arc remains a prisoner of the Burgundians at Beaurevior.

1430 October  Joan attempts to escape by leaping from the tower where she is held. She survives the 60 foot fall but is re-captured.

1430 Mid-Nov  Joan is sold to the English by the Duke of Burgundy for ten thousand francs.

1430 December 25  Arrives in Rouen for her trial orchestrated by the English to kill her and destroy her reputation with the ultimate goal of making her crowning of Charles VII illegitimate.

1431 Jan-Feb Held in prison cell shackled to bed while pro-English clergy made preparations for her trial.

1430 February 21  Joan makes her first appearance in Cauchon's court before about 70 hand-picked members of the clergy. Joan cooperates but shows her resolve by refusing to swear she will answer all that they ask.

1430 March 1  Joan makes ominous prediction in court that "Before seven years the English will lose a greater prize than they did before Orleans."

1430 March 10  Cauchon re-convenes in Joan's cell away from public view with his most ruthless judges.

1430 March 27   Joan of Arc is read the seventy articles of accusation against her that Cauchon was able to concoct from her testimony.

1430 April 1  Joan became very ill after eating some fish given to her by Cauchon.

1430 May 9 Joan threatened with torture unless she denied her Voices and submits herself to the authority of the clergy present. She refuses and screams that she will retract anything they make her say.

1430 May 24  Joan is taken to the cemetery of St. Ouen where they threaten to burn her if she does not abjure. She finally agrees after they promise to take her to a Church prison.

1430 May 27  After being taken back to her prison cell she is trapped by English  soldiers into wearing her old clothes that she agreed not to wear. When the clergy found her they said she had relapsed.

1430 May 30 Joan of Arc pronounced a relapsed heretic and burned in Rouen's square by English soldiers. Her last words were "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."

1450 Early  After Rouen is liberated Charles VII decides it is time to restore Joan's name (and remove any taint of heresy from his crown) so he requests that the Church launch a Trial of Nullification

1456 July 7    After investigating Joan of Arc's life and the transcripts of her trial at Rouen for six years, the Church overturned Joan's conviction. In the Church's ruling, Joan is declared a martyr who was wrongly executed by
corrupt partisan clergy abusing a Church trial for secular purposes.

1909 April 18   Saint Joan of Arc officially beatified by Pope Pius X.

1920 May 16  Saint Joan of Arc officially canonized by Pope Benedict XV.

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Comment by John Edward Czarnomski on May 13, 2020 at 2:45pm


Comment by Alley on June 27, 2019 at 2:03am

St. Joan of Arc, pray for us!   Pray for all Crusaders of the Immaculate Heart, you are our Patron! 

Comment by Luci Hagarty on April 20, 2019 at 3:22pm

St. Joan of Arc, pray for us!

Comment by Flavia Talladen Schott on March 15, 2019 at 3:29am


Comment by Judy Muller on September 20, 2015 at 8:49am

St. Joan,    pray for us.....Amen.

Comment by Daniel M on January 21, 2013 at 1:58am

St Joan Of Arc,   May We be Lead By You and St Michael, The Great Protector To Guide our way and Conform Our Wills to Our Lord Through Our Holy Mothers Intercession, overcome This obstuction of people called "Resistance" and may they be led to The Love of Our Holy Mother and Unto HER SON! 


Comment by Adele Olsen on December 8, 2012 at 2:50am

I was 'Christened' in the Anglican church, and given the second name Joan.  47 years later, already a Catholic but requesting the Sacrament of Confirmation, had to produce my birth certificate.  To my surprise, I discovered I was 'christened' on the Feast of St Joan of Arc, May 30th.  St Joan is very special to me and an example of courage which I sorely need.  A saying of hers remains with me: 'on doit faire les petites choses come les grandes, afin de meriter de faire les grandes avec facilite comme les petites.'  Pardon me please, any mistakes here .

Comment by Dawn Marie on September 3, 2012 at 7:36pm

O Lord, you wondrously raised up Saint Joan d'Arc, 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.


Saint Joan of Arc, pray for us!

Comment by Daniel M on August 31, 2012 at 12:30am

St Joan Pray For Us

Comment by Dawn Marie on August 25, 2012 at 8:31pm

O Lord, you wondrously raised up Saint Joan d'Arc, 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.


Saint Joan of Arc, pray for us!

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