Saturday, September 7, 2013

Saint Joan

Outside the Cathedral of Reims stands a statue of a petit woman in armour riding a horse. This is Joan of Arc.  She became a folk heroine of France and a Roman Catholic Saint.

Jeanne d'Arc was born around 1412, in Domrémy, Duchy of Bar, now eastern France. She was a peasant girl who claimed divine guidance after her first vision around the age of twelve. She identified the figures in the vision as Saint Michael, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret, who told her to drive out the English and bring the Dauphin to Reims for his coronation. 

She led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War. These victories paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII of France in the Cathedral of Reims.

She was captured by the Burgundians and handed over to the English for reward money. Jeanne was put on trail by the Bishop of Beauvais, Pierre Cauchon for charges of "insubordination and heterodoxy". She was burned at the stake for heresy on 30 May 1431 at the age of nineteen years. 

Twenty-five years after her execution, an inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trail, pronounced her innocent and declared Jeanne d'Arc a martyr. Along with her martyrdom she was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920. Sainte Jeanne had also joined St. Denis, St Martin of Tours, St Louis IX and St Theresa of Lisieux as one of the Patron Saints of France. 

There is a dedication to her in the Cathedral in Reims.

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