30 May 2024

St Joan of Arc, Virgin

While the angelic hosts acclaim the Incarnate Word as he takes possession of his eternal throne, a virgin at the head of the armies of earth re-echoes the praises of heaven She was a child of the countryside, pious, gentle, and utterly ignorant, especially of the art of war, but Michael the soldier of God trained her with the aid of the Virgin Martyrs Catherine and Margaret, and suddenly like a challenge thrown to modern naturalism in the broad daylight of history, she made her appearance, at the age of seventeen as an incomparable warrior. Her victories, her personal influence and strategical genius equal those of the most famous captains of any times. But she surpasses them all in heroism, in her childlike simplicity, virginal purity, and faith in her Lord Jesus, the Son of St. Mary, for whom she died—even greater at the stake at Rouen than in the days of her triumph. “De par le Roi du ciel” (By order of the King of Heaven) was the motto on her banner. By order of The King of Heaven, her sovereign liege, in whose royal service she is day by day, she calls upon cities to return to their lawful obedience. By the order of the King of Heaven she intimates to the English that she has been sent to drive them out of France. ‘For,’ as she declared to the Dauphin’s representative, ‘the kingdom does not appertain to the Dauphin, but to my Lord. But it is the will of my Lord that the Dauphin should be made king and should hold the kingdom in commendam.’ ‘And who is thy Lord?’ asked Baudricourt. ‘My Lord is the King of heaven.’

To Charles VII she said: “I am called Joan the Maid, and through me does the King of heaven give you to understand that you shall be vice-regent of the king of heaven who is king of France.” To the Duke of Burgundy, who was then in alliance with the enemy,  she said: “I tell you by order of the King of heaven, that all who make war on the said holy kingdom, make war on the king Jesus, the King of heaven and of all the earth.”

Joan came into the world on the feast of the glorious Epiphany, which manifested the divine Child to the world as the Lord of lords. It was during these days of his Ascension, when he takes his seat at the right hand of his Father, that she began her campaigns in 1428, achieved her greatest triumph in 1429, and closed her warlike career in 1430.

She died May 30, 1431, the eve of the Feast of Corpus Christi ― a worthy consummation for a life like hers, a supreme consecration for her cause. As her soul rose from the flames to join Michael and his hosts and the Virgin Martyrs at the court of the immortal King of Ages, she left the church on earth prostrate before Christ, the King, the Ruler of the Nations, who as it were, holds his royal assizes where he is glorified in the mystery of faith.

The following account of her life is given by the Church:

Joan of Arc was born in the town of Domrémy (which was once in the diocese of Toul, but belongs now to that of Saint Dié) in the year of our Lord 1412. Her parents were noted for their virtue and piety. When she was but thirteen years old, and knew nothing but house work, field work, and the first elements of religion, she learnt that God had chosen her to deliver France from her enemies and restore the kingdom to its former independence. She enjoyed familiar intercourse with the Archangel Michael and SS Catherine and Margaret, who during five years, instructed her how to fulfill her mission. Then, desiring to obey the command of God, she addressed herself to the governor of Vaucouleurs, who, after having several times repulsed her, at length gave her and escort to take her to King Charles.

Following in all things the divine commands, she overcame all the difficulties of the long journey, and arrived at Chinon in Touraine, where she furnished the king with proofs that her mission was from God. She proceeded to Orleans, and in a few days inflicted three defeats on the enemy, relieved the town, and raised her banner aloft in triumph. Then, after other military successes in which the assistance of God was clearly manifested, she brought Charles to Rheims, where he was solemnly crowned king. She would not rest even then, but, having learnt from her heavenly voices that God would permit her to fall into the hands of the enemy she went bravely on to meet what was to befall her.

She was taken prisoner at Compiègne, sold to the English, and sent to Rouen for trial. She had to defend herself against many accusations, but her purity was never impugned. She suffered all things with patience for the sake of Lord Jesus Christ. The wicked judges who tried this gentle and innocent virgin, condemned her to be burnt. So, fortified by the holy Eucharist, which she had long desired, and her eyes fixed upon the Cross while she constantly murmured the name of Jesus, she took her flight to heaven on May 30, in the nineteenth year of her age. The holy Roman Church which she had always loved, and to which she had often appealed, undertook, under Pope Calixtus III, her rehabilitation, and towards the end of the nineteenth century Leo XIII gave permissions for the introduction of the cause of beatification. Finally, after diligent examination and approbation of fresh miracles Pius X inscribed her among the Blessed and permitted the diocese of France to keep the feast with a special Office and Mass.

O King of Glory, who dost today ascend above the heights of heaven, thou didst drink of the torrent in the way and therefore dost thou now lift up thy head. Thy ancestor David prophesied it, thine Apostle proclaimed it. Thou didst humble thyself unto death, even the death of the cross, and therefore has God the Father exalted thee on this day, therefore does every knee bow at thy name, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. It was becoming that the law of the Head should be the law also of all those who were to be called to share his glory. Before all ages, in the great Counsel of which, as the Church sings on Christmas Day, thou wert the Angel, the conditions of definitive victory and eternal success were thus laid down.

The Gospel tells us that the hour would come for the disciples of Jesus to give testimony and that men would think to serve God by putting them to death. Joan, like Jesus, was questioned, judged and condemned with all the legal forms and imposing ceremonial of orthodoxy. But, O ye enemies of Joan and of France, ye thought yourselves her executioners, and ye were offering her in sacrifice. France was saved, for God accepted the virginal victim. Her passing mission became a permanent patronage, and the deliverer of her country on earth has become her immortal protectress in heaven.

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