Saint Joan of Heroic Chastity, Goodness, Courage and Kindness

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joan1Saint Joan of Arc is one of my favorite Saints, and Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) wrote her biography as an act of real love and devotion as well as a work of great scholarship.  He actually intensely studied both the French and English histories about her for more than a decade before beginning a concentrated 2 years of writing her biography.  His biography of Joan has stood the test of time to the extent that the very intellectual and academic Catholic Jesuit Order Publishers, Ignatious Press, purchased the rights to this book and reprinted it in an inexpensive large paperback format to make it widely available as the best English Language biography of Saint Joan ever written.  (It is available on Kindle now too.)

This is even more amazing because Clemens did NOT write it as a ‘Hagiography’ or sanctification of a SAINT.  He wrote it as the biography of Joan as his muse and heroine, describing how the French Catholics venerated her as a living Saint, but he did not, himself, ever describe her in religious terms as a saint.  Instead he constantly emphasized the conflict between the devout Catholic Joan and her simple Catholic  peasant friends and admirers, and the politicized clergy that she often confronted during her young life, and who (among the British who captured her during the War) finally tried and martyred her by burning her at the stake for witchcraft.
UntitledIt is important to understand the mundane politics of this series of events, ending in her martyrdom, because it was NOT the French Catholics who were obedient to the Pope and the French King, who tried, condemned and burned Saint Joan at the stake.  France and England were at war and the Pope and the French King had approved Joan’s inconceivable PLEA to lead the French Army.  She was an uneducated poor little village girl of 16 years old when she claimed that God wanted her to save France by leading its Army to victory over the English!  The question was then raised as to whether she was mad or possessed.  In spite of her astonishing request to lead the French Army, she was found faultless by those mundane experts and the French Catholic prelates who investigated her for sorcery, and thus she had the approval of the Pope and the King of France to lead the French Army against England.

Then, after she personally led a series of stunning victories over the English Army, she was captured by the English.  Recognizing that she, a little girl, was the cause of their defeat, it was imperative for them to convince their own people that she was demonically possessed!  Thus the English held a great fiasco of an open trial to publicly defame her and sentence her to death for ‘witchcraft’.   Of course the Catholics of France and the French Clergy who loved and venerated her never accepted the English Court’s politically motivated religious condemnation of Joan, and continued to try to clear her name, finally succeeding when the Magisterium of the Catholic Church formally declared her a Saint, worthy of worship (VENERATION) by the entire universal (catholic) Church.

Of course there are those English and fundamentalist Anti-Catholic Protestants who still cite her childhood play with fairies, and her extraordinary virtues and ‘supernatural powers’ as proof that she was consorting with demons.

As for myself, I venerate Saint Joan as one of my Muses and Protectors and pray to her daily for her strategic guidance, and courage to face my enemies and to bear my wounds courageously.

+ Oh Little Shepardess of my soul, Saint Joan of heroic chastity and goodness, courage and kindness, wisdom and joyfulness, innocence and genius, beauty and renunciation, please give me final perseverance, even in the face of martyrdom, but protect my Family and Friends and Allies, for the sake of the Kingdom of God on Earth!  In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen+

PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF JOAN OF ARC By The Sieur Louis De Conte

  The writer had just risen to address the group. As he began to speak, a girl emerged from the back of the room. Her hair was cropped just below her ears; her face was angular but radiant. Underneath a ceremonial white robe, she wore the armor of a 15th-century French soldier. With eyes fixed on the author, she glided up the aisle between the tables carrying a laurel wreath atop a satin pillow. A reporter from The New York Times in attendance that night later wrote that the “company smile” Twain had exhibited for most of the ceremony faded. By the time the girl reached his table, “Twain had every appearance of a man who had seen a ghost. His eyes fairly started out of his head, his hand gripped the edge of the table.” She presented the author with the wreath, and he accepted it wordlessly. He remained silent until the model exited the room. As the seconds ticked away, Twain’s audience anxiously awaited his response.When the writer finally spoke, he did so slowly, carefully.  “Now there's an illustration, gentlemen — a real illustration. I studied that girl, Joan of Arc, for twelve years, and it never seemed to me that the artists and the writers gave us a true picture of her. They drew a picture of a peasant. Her dress was that of a peasant. But they always missed the face — the divine soul, the pure character, the supreme woman, the wonderful girl. She was only 18 years old, but put into a breast like hers a heart like hers and I think, gentlemen, you would have a girl — like that.   Source


The writer had just risen to address the group. As he began to speak, a girl emerged from the back of the room. Her hair was cropped just below her ears; her face was angular but radiant. Underneath a ceremonial white robe, she wore the armor of a 15th-century French soldier. With eyes fixed on the author, she glided up the aisle between the tables carrying a laurel wreath atop a satin pillow. A reporter from The New York Times in attendance that night later wrote that the “company smile” Twain had exhibited for most of the ceremony faded. By the time the girl reached his table, “Twain had every appearance of a man who had seen a ghost. His eyes fairly started out of his head, his hand gripped the edge of the table.” She presented the author with the wreath, and he accepted it wordlessly. He remained silent until the model exited the room. As the seconds ticked away, Twain’s audience anxiously awaited his response.When the writer finally spoke, he did so slowly, carefully. “Now there’s an illustration, gentlemen — a real illustration. I studied that girl, Joan of Arc, for twelve years, and it never seemed to me that the artists and the writers gave us a true picture of her. They drew a picture of a peasant. Her dress was that of a peasant. But they always missed the face — the divine soul, the pure character, the supreme woman, the wonderful girl. She was only 18 years old, but put into a breast like hers a heart like hers and I think, gentlemen, you would have a girl — like that. Source

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