CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Joan of Arc – New Advent
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in french joan of arc; by her contemporaries commonly known as la pucelle (the maiden).
born at domremy in champagne, probably january 6, 1412; Died at Rouen, May 30, 1431. The town of Domremy was within the confines of the territory that recognized the suzerainty of the Duke of Burgundy, but in the long-running 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 farmer, poor but not needy. Joan appears to have been the youngest of a family of five. she never learned to read or write, but she was skilled at sewing and spinning, and the popular idea that she spent her childhood days in the pastures, alone with the sheep and cattle, is quite unfounded. all the witnesses in the process of her rehabilitation spoke of her as a singularly pious child, grave beyond her age, who often knelt in church absorbed in prayer, and tenderly loved the poor. At Juana’s trial, great attempts were made to connect her with some superstitious practices that were supposed to have been carried out around a certain tree, popularly known as the “fairy tree” (l’arbre des dames), but the The sincerity of his answers baffled his judges. she had sung and danced there with the other children, and she had woven crowns for the statue of our lady, but since she was twelve she had kept away from such amusements.
It was at the age of thirteen and a half, in the summer of 1425, when Juana became aware for the first time of that manifestation, whose supernatural nature it would now be rash to question, which she later called her “voices”. ” or her “advice”. at first it was simply a voice, as if someone had spoken very close to her, but it also seems clear that a glow of light accompanied it, and that she then clearly made out 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 catalina and others joan was always reluctant to talk about their voices she said nothing about them to her confessor, and consistently refused, at her trial, to be coaxed into descriptions of the saints’ appearance and to explain how she recognized them, yet she told her judges: “I saw them with these very eyes, as well as the I see you.”
rationalist historians, such as m. Anatole France, to explain these voices as the result of a condition of religious and hysterical exaltation that had been fostered in Joan by priestly influence, combined with certain current prophecies in the field of a maiden in the bois chesnu (oak forest), near from which the fairy tree was situated, which 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 isn’t a shadow of evidence to support this theory of priestly advisers training Juana in part, but much that contradicts it. besides, unless we charge the maiden with deliberate falsehood, which no one is willing to do, it was the voices that created the state of patriotic exaltation, and not the exaltation that preceded the voices. his evidence on these points is clear.
Although Joan never made any statement about the date the voices revealed her mission, it seems certain that God’s call only gradually became known to her. but by may 1428 she no longer doubted that she was ordered to go to the king’s aid, and the voices became insistent, urging her to appear before robert baudricourt, who commanded charles vii in the neighboring town of vaucouleurs. This journey was finally completed a month later, but Baudricourt, a rude and dissolute soldier, treated her and her mission with scant respect, telling the cousin who accompanied her: “Take her to her father’s house and give her a good beating. “
Meanwhile, the military situation for King Charles and his supporters grew more desperate. Orleans was invaded (October 12, 1428), and by the end of the year complete defeat seemed imminent. Joan’s voices became urgent, even threatening. She resisted in vain, telling them: “I am a poor girl, I don’t know how to ride or fight.” the voices only reiterated: “it is god who sends it”. Finally, she left Domremy in January 1429 and returned to visit Vaucouleurs.
Baudricourt was still skeptical, but as she stayed in town, her persistence gradually impressed him. On February 17, he announced a great defeat that the French arms had suffered outside Orleans (the battle of the herrings). as this statement was officially confirmed a few days later, her cause gained ground. finally she was allowed to seek the king at chinon, and she proceeded thither with a slender escort of three men-at-arms, attired, at her own request, in masculine dress, no doubt as a protection to her modesty in the hard life of the camp. She always slept fully clothed, and everyone who was intimate with her declared that there was something about her that repressed any unseemly thought of her.
She arrived in Chinon on March 6 and two days later was admitted in the presence of Charles VII. to test her, the king had disguised himself as her, but she immediately greeted him without hesitation in the midst of a group of attendees. from the beginning a strong group at court la tremolo, the royal favourite, foremost among them, opposed her like a mad visionary, but a secret signal, communicated to her by their voices, which she made known to charles, led to the king, something halfway, to believe in his mission. What this sign was, Joan never revealed, but it is now more commonly believed that this “king’s secret” was a doubt that Charles had conceived about the legitimacy of her birth, and that Joan had been supernaturally empowered to put an end to it. .
Yet, before Joan could be employed in military operations, she was sent to Poitiers to be examined by a large committee of learned and medical bishops. the examination was of the most searching and formal character. It is extremely unfortunate that the minutes of the proceedings, to which Ella Juana Ella appealed frequently later in her trial, have completely disappeared. all we know is that her ardent faith, her simplicity, and her honesty made a favorable impression. the theologians found nothing heretical in her claims to her supernatural guidance and, without ruling on the reality of her mission, thought she could be safely employed and subjected to further testing.
Upon returning to Chinon, Joan made her campaign preparations. instead of the sword the king offered her, she begged him to find an ancient sword buried, as she claimed, behind the altar in the chapel of ste-catherine-de-fierbois. she found herself in the same place indicated by her voices. At the same time, a banner was made for her with the words Jesus, Mary, with an image of God the Father, and kneeling angels presenting a fleur-de-lis.
but perhaps the most interesting fact related to this first stage of his mission is a letter from a sire of rotslaer written from lyon on april 22, 1429, which was delivered in brussels and duly registered, as the manuscript attests to the today. , before any of the events referred to has received its fulfillment. The maiden, he reports, said “that she would save Orleans and force the English to lift the siege, that she herself in a battle before Orleans would be wounded by an arrow but would not die for it, and that the king, in the course of the next summer, he would be crowned in reims, along with other things the king keeps secret.”
Before setting out on 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 in one swift move entered Orleans on April 30. his presence there immediately worked wonders. On May 8 all the English forts surrounding the city had been captured and the siege lifted, although on the 7th John was wounded in the chest by an arrow. As for the maiden, he wanted to follow these successes with all speed, partly out of a healthy warrior instinct, partly because his voices had already told him that he only had one year left to last. but the king and his advisers, especially the tremoille and the archbishop of reims, were slow to move. However, at Joan’s instigation, a brief campaign was launched in the Loire, which, after a series of successes, ended on June 18 in a great victory at Patay, where English reinforcements were sent from Paris under Sir John Fastolf. they were completely defeated. routed the road to reims was now practically open, but the maiden had great difficulty in persuading the commanders not to withdraw before troys, which was at first closed to them. They captured the city and then, still reluctantly, followed her to Reims, where, on Sunday, July 17, 1429, Charles VII was solemnly crowned, the maiden standing with her banner, for as she explained “just as it had been shared in the work, it was fair that he should share in the victory.”
thus the main objective of joan’s mission was achieved, and some authorities claim that it was now her wish to return home, but that she was detained with the army against her will. The evidence is somewhat contradictory, and it is likely that Joan herself did not always speak in the same tone. she probably saw clearly how much could have been done to effect 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 up all the diplomatic baits thrown by the duke of burgundy.
at the end of august an unsuccessful attempt was made in paris. Although St-Denis was occupied without opposition, the assault on the town on 8 September was not seriously supported, and Joan, while heroically encouraging his men to fill the moat, was shot in the thigh with an arrow from crossbow . the duke d’alençon removed it almost by force and the assault was abandoned. Doing otherwise undoubtedly damaged Joan’s prestige, and soon after, when, through Charles’s political advisers, a truce was signed with the Duke of Burgundy, he sadly laid down his arms on the altar of St-Denis.
The inactivity of the following winter, spent for the most part in the worldliness and jealousy of the court, must have been a miserable experience for Joan. It could have been with the idea of consoling her that Carlos, on December 29, 1429, ennobled the maiden and her entire family, who henceforth, due to the lilies on her coat of arms, were known by the name of dulis. it was april before she joan could return to the field at the end of the truce, and in her melun her voices let her know that she would be taken prisoner before midsummer. Nor did the fulfillment of this prediction take long. It seems that she had launched into Compiègne on May 24 at dawn to defend the city from the Burgundian attack. she at night she decided to try a way out, but her small troop of about five hundred of hers was met with a far superior force. Her followers were forced back and desperately fought back. due to some mistake or panic by guillaume de flavy, who commanded en compiègne, the drawbridge was raised while many of those who had made the start were still outside, joan among them. She was thrown from her horse and became a prisoner of a follower of John of Luxembourg. guillaume de flavy has been charged with willful treason, but there does not seem to be sufficient reason to suppose this. He resolutely continued to maintain compiègne for his king, while Joan’s constant thought during the first months of his captivity was to escape and come to help him in this task of defending the city.
No words can adequately describe the shameful ingratitude and apathy of Charles and his advisors in leaving the maid to her fate. if military force had failed, they had prisoners like the earl of suffolk in her hands, for whom they could have traded her. Joan was sold by John of Luxembourg to the English for a sum that would equal several hundred thousand dollars in modern currency. there is no doubt that the English, partly because they feared her prisoner with a superstitious terror, partly because they were ashamed of the fear she inspired, were determined at all costs to take her life from her. they could not put her to death for beating them, but they could have her sentenced as a witch and heretic.
Moreover, they had a tool at hand in Pierre Cauchon, the Bishop of Beauvais, an unscrupulous and ambitious man, a creature of the Burgundian party. A pretext for invoking his authority was found in the fact that Compiègne, where Joan was captured, was in the diocese of Beauvais. Still, as Beauvais was in French hands, the trial took place in Rouen, where the latter venue was vacant at the time. this raised many points of technical legality that were summarily resolved by the interested parties.
The vicar of the inquisition at first, due to some scruple of jurisdiction, refused to attend, but this difficulty was overcome before the trial was over. Throughout the trial, Cauchon’s advisers were almost entirely French, mostly theologians and doctors from the University of Paris. Preliminary court meetings took place in January, but it was not until February 21, 1431, that Joan first appeared before her judges. she was not allowed a lawyer and she, although she was accused in an ecclesiastical court, she was illegally confined in the castle of rouen, a secular prison, where she was guarded by dissolute english soldiers. Ella Joan complained bitterly about this. she asked to be in the church prison, where she would have had female attendants. no doubt it was for the better protection of her modesty in such conditions that she persisted in keeping her masculine attire. Before being handed over to the English, she had desperately tried to escape from it by throwing herself from the window of the Beaurevoir tower, an act of apparent presumption for which she was greatly intimidated by her judges. This also served as a pretext for her harshness towards her imprisonment in Rouen, where she was initially held in an iron cage, chained by her neck, hands and feet. on the other hand, she was not allowed spiritual privileges p. she attended mass because of the charge of heresy and the monstrous costume (difformitate habitus) that she wore.
As for the record of the trial, which, as far as the Latin version goes, seems to have been preserved in its entirety, we can probably trust its accuracy in everything that refers to the questions asked and the answers returned by the prisoner. These responses are in every way favorable 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 the visions of her, but on many points she refused to answer. Her attitude was always intrepid, and on March 1, Joan boldly announced that “seven years from now, the English would have to lose a bigger prize than Orléans.” November 1437 six years and eight months later. It was probably because the maid’s answers won sympathizers for her in a large assembly that cauchon decided to carry out the rest of the investigation before a small committee of judges in the same prison. We can point out that the only matter in which an accusation of prevarication against Juana’s answers can be reasonably alleged occurs especially at this stage of the investigation. Joan, pressed by the secret sign given to the king, declared that an angel brought her a golden crown, but on further questioning of her, she seems to have confused and contradicted herself. most authorities (such as m. petit de julleville and mr. andrew lang) agree that she was trying to hide the king’s secret behind an allegory, being the angel herself; but others for example p. ayroles and canon dunand hint that the accuracy of the verbal process cannot be trusted. at another point she was handicapped by her lack of education. the judges asked her to submit to “the militant church”. Clearly, Ella Joan did not understand the phrase and, although she wanted and longed to appeal to the pope, she was left puzzled and confused. it was later claimed that Joan’s reluctance to commit herself to simply accepting the decisions of the church was due to some insidious advice she had treacherously imparted to herself to work her downfall. but the accounts of this supposed perfidy are contradictory and improbable.
exams ended on March 17th. Seventy propositions were then drawn up, making a very messy and unfair presentation of Juana’s “crimes,” but, after she was allowed to hear and respond to them, another set of twelve, better arranged and less extravagantly worded, was drawn up. 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 “false and diabolical”, and decided that if she refused to recant she would be turned over. to the secular arm which was the same as saying that it was going to be burned. certain formal warnings were administered to the poor victim, first in private and then in public, (April 18 and May 2), but she refused to make any presentation which the judges might have found satisfactory. on May 9, they threatened to torture her, but she still stood her ground. meanwhile the twelve propositions were sent to the university of paris, which, being extravagantly english in sympathy, denounced the maiden in violent terms. Firm in this approval, the judges, numbering forty-seven, held a final deliberation, and forty-two reaffirmed that Juana should be declared a heretic and handed over to the civil power, if she still refused to retract it. Another reprimand followed in prison on May 22, but Joan remained steadfast. the next day a bonfire was erected in the st-ouen cemetery, and in the presence of a large crowd he was solemnly admonished for the last time. After a courageous protest against the preacher’s insulting musings on his king, Charles VII, the props of the scene seem at last to have worked on the mind and body worn by so many struggles. his courage for once failed her. she consented to sign some sort of retraction, but the precise terms of that retraction will never be known. a form of retraction is inserted in the minutes of the process that is most humiliating in all aspects. it is a long document that would have taken half an hour to read. What was read aloud to Joan and signed by her must have been something quite different, since five witnesses in the rehabilitation trial, including Jean Massieu, the official who had it read aloud, testified that it was only of a few lines. . even so, the poor victim did not sign unconditionally, but she stated flatly that she only recanted as far as it was the will of god. However, by virtue of this concession, Ella Joan was not burned, but was taken back to prison.
The English and Burgundians were furious, but Cauchon apparently placated them by saying, “We’ll still have it.” no doubt her position would now, in the event of a relapse, be worse than before, because no second retraction could save her from the flames. moreover, since one of the points for which she had been condemned was the use of male clothing, the resumption of that attire alone would constitute a relapse into heresy, and this happened after a few days, due, as was later alleged , to a trap deliberately set by his jailers with the connivance of the cauchon. she Juana, either to defend her modesty from her outrages, or because they took away her women’s clothes, or, perhaps, simply because she was tired of the fight and convinced that her enemies were determined to have her blood on some pretext. she, she once again she put on the man’s dress that she had deliberately left in the way of her. the end now came soon. on May 29, a court of thirty-seven judges decided unanimously that the maiden should be treated as a repeat heretic, and this sentence was carried out the next day (May 30, 1431) amid circumstances of intense pathos. it is said that when the judges visited her early in the morning, she first accused cauchon of responsibility for her death, solemnly appealing to him to god, and then declared that “her voices had deceived her”. this last speech should always feel a doubt. we cannot be sure if such words were ever used, and even if they were, the meaning is not clear. however, she was allowed to confess and receive communion from her. Her behavior at her bonfire was such that she brought even her staunchest enemies to tears. she asked for a cross from her, which, after having embraced it, was held in front of her while continually invoking the name of jesus. “To the last,” said Manchón, the trial recorder, “she declared that her voices came from God and she had not been deceived.”
Twenty-four years later, a review of his trial, the procès de réhabilitation, was opened in paris with the consent of the holy see. popular sentiment was then very different, and, with rare exceptions, all the witnesses were eager to pay tribute to the maiden’s virtues and supernatural gifts. the first trial had been carried out without reference to the pope; in fact, it was held in defiance of st. Joan’s appeal to the head of the church. Now, a court of appeals constituted by the pope, after a long investigation and examination of witnesses, reversed and annulled the sentence pronounced by a local court under the presidency of Cauchon. the illegality of the earlier proceedings was made clear, and it speaks well of the sincerity of this new investigation which could not be carried out without inflicting a certain degree of reproach both on the king of France and on the church in general, seeing that so many misdeeds had been committed. injustice and had been suffered for so long that it continued to be unredressed. Even before the rehabilitation trial, keen observers such as Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (later Pope Pius II), though they still had doubts about her mission, had discerned something of the maiden’s heavenly character. In Shakespeare’s time she was still regarded in England as a witch in league with the demons of Hell, but a fairer estimate had begun to prevail even in the pages of Speed ‘s “History of Great Britain ” (1611 ). ). by the early nineteenth century her sympathy for her, even in england, was general. Writers like Southey, Hallam, Sharon Turner, Carlyle, Landor, and most of all, Quincey greeted the maiden with a tribute of respect that was unsurpassed even in her own homeland. among her Catholic compatriots she had been regarded, even in her lifetime, as divinely inspired.
finally, the cause of his beatification was presented on the occasion of an appeal addressed to the holy see, in 1869, by monsignor dupanloup, bishop of orléans, and, after passing through all its stages and being duly confirmed by miracles necessary, the process ended with the publication of the decree by pio x on april 11, 1909. a mass and office of st. joan, taken from “commune virginum”, with “own” prayers, have been approved by the holy see for use in the diocese of orléans.
st. Juana was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.